Tuesday, March 5, 2013

If He's Tempted by Hannah Howell

Lady Agatha Mallam goes to Lady Olympia Wherlocke at the opening of this book out of fear and desperation. She is trying to find someone to get word to her brother, Brant Mallam, Lord Fieldgate, about the treachery of their mother. Lady Letitia Mallam is basically planning on selling Agatha in marriage to the detestable Lord Sir Horace Minden, the Baron of Minden Grange. It would be a very lucrative business deal for Lady Mallam. However, it would also be morally reprehensible because he is rumored “to indulge in sins even the most hardened rake would step away from”, his past three wives have all died in suspicious circumstances, and he is diseased and has the pox. Lady Olympia can’t help but be sympathetic, especially given her own background. The thing that separates this book from other regular gothic mysteries is that Olympia and her family members all have some type of psychic gift. With Olympia she has the gift of foresight as well as the gift of psychometry – she can touch an object and pick up the psychic impressions on that object. When Olympia finds Brant, she finds a man slowly killing himself. He is medicating himself and dulling his misery with alcohol and women. His misery was caused by his mother. Years ago, Brant was in love with a sweet, innocent vicar’s daughter. Since this did not fit in with his mother’s plans, she had the girl abducted and sold to a brothel. She soon died. It was not immediately known to Brant what his mother did. When he found out, naturally it crushed him. Most of this book deals with Olympia, Brant, and others trying to defeat his mother. They try to remedy her past crimes and stop her future ones. If this were a Sherlock Holmes story, Letitia Mallam would be Professor Moriarty. It’s not merely her criminal enterprises in the field of sexual exploitation that make her such a sociopath and evil character, but the levels of scheming and manipulation to crush and ruin lives. I was very happy with how the author wrote the character of Brant Mallam. At first I worried that he would be a stereotypical rake, wallowing in self-pity and constantly trying to seduce Olympia and forever leering at her. Happily this was not the case. Once Olympia brought him out of his fog, fairly quickly, he sobered up and committed to undo the damage done by his mother and help his sister and others harmed by her. He did wrestle with guilt for his mother’s behavior but it was nicely fleshed out and added depth to his character. The romance between Olympia and Brant was sweet, sexy, and felt very natural and not at all forced or awkward. This was the first book I’ve read by this author, even though this is book 5 in this series, I would be interested in reading other books in this series. I would love to read about the younger generation that was seen in this book – such as Agatha, Ilar, & Giles – in future books taking place when they are older.

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