Thursday, April 7, 2011

Review: How to Woo a Reluctant Lady

Title: How to Woo a Reluctant Lady
Author: Sabrina Jeffries
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Hellions of Halstead Hall (#3)
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Lady Minerva Sharpe has the perfect plan to thwart her grandmother's demands: become engaged to a rogue! Surely Gran would rather release her inheritance than see her wed a scoundrel. And who better to play the part of Minerva's would-be husband than wild barrister Giles Masters, the very inspiration for the handsome spy in the popular Gothic novels she writes? The memory of his passionate kiss on her nineteenth birthday has lingered in Minerva's imagination, though she has no intention of really falling for such a rakehell, much less marrying him. Little does she know, he really is a covert government operative. When they team up to investigate the mystery behind her parents' deaths, their fake betrothal leads to red-hot desire. Then Minerva discovers Giles's secret double life, and he must use all the cunning tricks of his trade to find his way back into her heart.
I would say that, so far, How to Woo a Reluctant Lady has been my favorite of the Hellions of Halstead Hall series.  For some reason I find that Sabrina Jeffries books pack more of a punch when the primary character is female (like with her Heiress series) than when the primary character is male (i.e. Oliver or Jarret).  I don't really know why since every book has a hero and heroine, but this is what I've noticed.  Also, I was excited that Giles got his own book!  David Masters is one of my all time favorite heroes, so getting to read about his little brother (even though his little bro seriously messed up in Wed Him Before You Bed Him) was real fun.
Minerva and Giles have great chemistry together and are strong independent characters as well.  Minerva's career as a gothic novelist is fun to read about, especially since we've heard so much about her character Rockton in The Truth About Lord Stoneville and now we're getting a whole new take on him.  Normally I get bored with the "rake who isn't actually a rake" plot, but it worked fabulously for Giles because it was layered with his job, his values, and the pressures it put on him.  He was a fleshed out character.  A main point of the series is the Sharpe's family scandal, and Jeffries does a great job of carrying through the series story arc and keeping it interesting.  The tragedy of the Sharpe's parent's death applies to all the siblings, but here it was woven right into Minevra and Gile's romance so it didn't weigh the plot down.

However, there were things that irked me throughout the novel- in particular Minerva and Gile's trust issues.  Come on, work through them already!

For the first half of the novel Minerva obsessess that marrying ANY man will mean the loss of her freedom.  She is determined to live alone in some cottage and write her books, even though she has some obvious envy of her brother's and their marriages.  This is all understandable after her witnessing her parents marriage, but it was rubbing me the wrong way how she was treating Giles.  We know he's had to play the dissulote rake for years, but she doesn't let him get two words in edgewise for a good quarter of the book.  Instead she just disses him, his career, and his ability to take responsibility.  If she had let him get in two words she might have seen just how much he really had accomplished.  And he was trying really really hard to show her!  I just wanted to shake her!

On the other hand, for the second half of the book Giles wasn't any better!  He's so determined to believe that Minerva can't keep a secret (becuase she is a writer and will accidently write it into a book) that he doesn't tell her anything.  His secretiveness almost destroyes her and their marriage.  Ok, I get it, he's been a spy all these years and now can't trust anyone.  I half like that part because it adds depth to his character.  But at the same time, Ravenswood, his superior, has already given him permission to tell Minerva!  Could he be anymore of an idiot? I wanted to slap him!

Of course, it all works out wonderfully in the end, and I enjoyed reading it and would recommend it.  Niether Minerva's nor Giles's flaws were enough to turn me off to the book, or even significantly pull me away from the plot.  All in all 4 stars.


  1. You mentioned that in this author's tales if the primary character is the heroine the tale is a good one. You know, I believe that. I think that author's connect better with either the male or female leads in their books.

    Me, I find that stories that open with the hero (not that he's the "primary" character) usually end up being good stories. I don't know why that is.

    Anyhow, I enjoyed your review ;)

  2. Minerva and Giles must be well written, for you to want to shake her and slap him! This is why I trust your reviews: you immerse yourself in the characters. Nice review. :)

  3. Barbara- Thanks! Yea, I just think an authors writing inevitably improves when they're more connected to a character, and it really shows.

    Eileen- Thanks mom :)