This is one of two novels by Ms Burrowes that were nominated for this year’s RITA Award for long historical (the other one was Douglas: Lord of Heartache, which I had read a few months ago).
I originally thought, after being unable to finish reading The Summer of You for July’s TBR Challenge, that this novel would do, but, well, reading slump from Hell, you know?
Worth: Lord of Reckoning, by Grace Burrowes
This is the eleventh book in The Lonely Lords, a loosely connected series. As far as I can tell, for whatever reasons, some of these were published by Sourcebooks Casablanca, and others have been self-published. This books is one of the latter, and I had a lot of issues with it.
Here’s the blurb:
Consummate man of business and rake at large, Worth Kettering, repairs to his country estate to sort out his familial situation, trusting the ever efficient (though as yet unmet) housekeeper, Jacaranda Wyeth, will provide his family a pleasant summer retreat. To his surprise, his household is manage by a quick-witted, violet-eyed Amazon who’s his match in many regards.
As Jacaranda and Worth become enamored, the family she’s kept hidden from him, the financial clients Worth feels singularly protective of, and the ragged state of affairs between Worth and his estranged older brother Hessian all conspire to keep Worth and Jacaranda apart. Worth must choose between love and profit, and Jacaranda must decide between loyalty to her family, and the love of a man who values her above all others.
I had so many problems with this one, that it came close to becoming yet another DNF review. As it is, it’s taken me weeks of reading a chapter here and a chapter there, to finish the book.
First one, is our heroine’s name. Jacaranda? Seriously? When is this book set, again? It seems to be wallpaper Regency England, but even there, I’m wondering how on earth anyone at the time–particularly landed gentry without pretensions of scientific inclinations (and I don’t count grafting roses as enough evidence of any)–would decide to name their first female offspring after a tree from South America.
Then, about thirty pages into the story, our hero–who is the brother and heir to an earl–decides to pull up pajama bottoms. Read that again. Pajama bottoms. In the freaking Regency. A quick trip to Wikipedia tells me that pajamas didn’t become regular male sleeping attire until the reign of Victoria. How did the author miss this? or rather, how could the author miss it?
Mind you, I’m usually not all that picky when it comes to Regency-set historical romances–I don’t know enough of the actual history to object to most details–but some things are just a little too much even for me. And the things is, the way the characters speak feels too modern by half. At one point, Jacaranda calls Worth ‘egalitarian’–yet Webster dates the first known use of egalitarian in 1885.
And, please, do not get me started on the frequent “Angels abide!” and “Everlasting powers!” our main characters use to punctuate anything and everything.
Still, I soldiered on–despite the plot moppet in the form of a young niece who was abandoned somewhere in the Continent, and speaks mangled French, Italian and English. Despite the bastard sister with the dark secret dropped on the hero’s head by his estranged older brother. Despite the conniving step-mother on the heroine’s side, who spends entirely too much time telling the reader how deprived she is of all the things she is entitled to.¹
So, here’s the thing. Once again, there is nothing offensive, or even terribly wrong about the novel. There was nothing original in it either. There were many, many clichés–the housekeeper who does all the work in the estate, yet makes sure she gets no credit for it; the apparently caddish solicitor who, on the side, makes sure that opera dancers and aging courtesans have sound investments that will see them to their dotage; the summer storm that catches the hero and heroine, with a conveniently well-maintained cottage, complete with clean bed; the estranged families–on both sides, of course. And so on, and so forth.
But nothing about the story or the characters made me rage. Nothing made me stay up reading, either, but…
I guess, the worst I can say about the novel is that it bored me enough to forget I was reading it for days at a time. The best I can say about it is that there are not many egregious language, grammar, editing, or formatting errors (gah, talk about damning with faint praise!).
Worth, Lord of Reckoning gets a 6.00 out of 10.
¹ I absolutely despise people who believe they are entitled to anything other than work for what they want, and to get what they have earned, so Ms Burrowes use of the world immediately put this character in cartoon evil overlord territory for me. YMMV, obviously.