Thursday, December 9, 2010

BOOK REVIEW: The Officer And The Proper Lady By Louise Allen

Harlequin Historical 288 pages

December 2010 By Louise Allen


Major Hal Carlow was a fine soldier, but he was also a flirt, a rake and a scoundrel! In general, he tried to steer clear of proper young ladies—no fun at all—and spend time with the sort of women who appreciated his finer qualities….

Miss Julia Tresilian's duty was to find a husband, but her prospective suitors bored her to tears. Yet even talking to the incorrigible Hal Carlow was dangerous to her marriage prospects, let alone anything more….

This is one of a plethora of Harlequin Historicals in the "Silk and Scandals" mini series that has been on-going since the summer. (book 7 to be precise) I have read a few, so I know what is going on regarding the back story that ties all these books together by various authors. But it is explained quite well here in this book that you really do not have to read any of the other books to understand and follow the plot or characters.

Major Hal Carlow is typical of the second son, not a care in the world, rake, gambler, libertine...and soldier. We were first introduced to Hal in Louise Allen's Silk and Scandal title from June, "The Lord And the Wayward Lady" which began the mystery and was about Hal's older brother, Marcus. Hal caught my attention then. Louise does not disappoint with this book.

He really is a hero in a lot of ways, he meets the proper lady, Julia Tresilian, and is immediately attracted to her. But it will NOT do, she is far too good for him. Hal does not believe himself worthy of such a fine lady, and a virgin to boot. And his reputation is such that even being seen talking to him will taint Julia's impeccable reputation of the proper young lady.

The story unfold in Brussels, just before the Battle of Waterloo. Louise gives us an amazing traverse through the build up to the battle and the battle itself, as we follow Hal right onto the battlefield.

But before Hal leaves for war, he is constantly thrown into Julia's path. Julia is bored with her stuffy suitors, and Hal is a breath of dangerous air. The more Julia is seen in Hal's company, the worse it gets. Even though they are attracted to each other, Hal fights it stubbornly.
By the time Hal leaves for war, he explains in heartbreaking detail why they can never wed.
By this time, Julia finds herself in love with Hal, and refuses to leave Brussels with her mother and much younger brother. I really liked Julia, proper young lady perhaps, but underneath all grit and guts.

After the battle, Hal does not return. So Julia does the unthinkable in society's eyes, she and her chaperone horseman go out into the field of destruction to find Hal.

Julia finally finds Hal, injured on purpose it seems, all tied into the 'Silk and Scandal' mystery. He is livid Julia did not follow his instructions to find safety out of Brussels. Now, she is good and ruined and he will have to marry her.

Hal's reasoning in his objections to marriage were a little hard to grasp at times, I didn't feel it was explained thoroughly enough. He wants her, yet he doesn't. He truly believes himself unworthy of the proper lady.

I admired Julia's tenacity to stick with this stubborn man, as heroic and dashing he was, Hal was starting to grate on me after a fashion.

However, it did not take away from the enjoyment of this read. All in all, enjoyable with a lush historical backdrop that more than made up for any weakness in the hero's motives, or lack thereof.

If you love the Harlequin Historical Solider romances of Carla Kelly or Diane Gaston, You will enjoy 'The Officer and the Proper Lady.'

3 1/4 stars out of 4 for the book

KOVER KUDOS: I love that Harlequin puts these guys in uniform. So dashing, so handsome, lovely pose as well.

3 out of 4 stars for the cover

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