The Viscount and the Virgin by Annie Burrows
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
The cover and the blurb drew me in when I got this one with my monthly Harlequin Historical books. I knew I'd be reading it soon. It didn't disappoint.
I don't want to give away too many plot details, because that is the fun in reading this book. It was interesting how deeply Imogen and Monty's lives intertwine. When they met, they seemed to be adversaries, but a blistering attraction makes that unlikely. They don't seem to be what each other wants at first glance, but they need to look deeper to see that they are meant for each other.
Imogen/Midge and Monty both have emotional baggage that they are dealing with. Imogen is a very lovable heroine, although she's way too hard on herself. But, I could see why, never having felt loved and appreciated. She finds it hard to believe that her husband could love her and want to be faithful to her. She takes his every action as a rejection. But, Monty is dealing with this difficult father and trying to play catch-up since he was a soldier for most of his young life, and now he's the heir to an earldom that has been mismanaged by his older brother before his death. He's got a lot on his plate, and that governs his actions quite a bit.
In the first book I read by Annie Burrows, The Earl's Untouched Bride, I felt that the misunderstandings between the couple went on too long. I was worried that this would be the same, but thankfully she didn't belabor those. I liked that Monty reasoned through some of Midge's actions towards the end, and came to the correct conclusion, instead of believing the poison his woman-hating father had spouted about her. I like how protective he was of her. For once, she had someone looking out for her needs.
My one issue, and sort of a big one, was the love scenes. Ms. Burrows does such an excellent job of building tension, you think you are in for some nicely steamy love scenes, but they so quick and very non-descriptive. I was quite disappointed. I don't mind at all if the author chooses not to include love scenes; but I don't like the story is written so steamy with great chemistry and buildup, and then there are no good love scenes to show the culmination of that tension. That was the case with this story. There were passionate kisses and caresses, and the love scene would go by with no details (practically fade to black), and I felt like I had missed something. I think Midge and Monty deserved some good love scenes. Monty is pretty hot for his bride, and Midge feels so passionate towards him that she worries that she's being improper (after being condemned for being her wild/immodest parents' daughter for so many years). They really connect on that level, and their private moments are when the walls come down between them. It just doesn't fit to have these short, non-descriptive love scenes. That's why I can't really give this book five stars. It's a shame, because I loved this book. It would have been five stars if I hadn't felt cheated of some passion.
This is part of a Harlequin Historical series called Silk and Scandal. This is book five. I haven't read the first four books, although I plan to do so. It didn't hurt me to read this book out of order, although there is a larger continuity involved that relates to Midge's parents. There was a good secondary story with Midge's half-brother Stephen who is the illegitimate offspring of her father and a Gypsy woman. He's very embittered by the way he was abandoned, and wants revenge against his family, who he believes rejected him. It added another emotional layer to this story.
I'd definitely recommend this to fans of shorter regency romances. If you like the plain jane/spinster motif and married couple romances, I think you'll enjoy this. Although Monty comes off as arrogant and rude initially (reminding me a little of Darcy from Pride and Prejudice, although more passionate), he's really a nice guy. I liked him a lot. Midge and Monty were a great couple.
Overall rating: 4.5/5.0 stars.
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