Veena’s review of All Afternoon with a Scandalous Marquess (Lords of Vice, Book 5) by Alexandra Hawkins
Historical Romance published by St. Martin’s 31 Jul 12
Alexandra Hawkins continues her Lords of Vice regency romance series with the much-awaited story of ‘Saint’ in All Afternoon with a Scandalous Marquess. What is Madame Venna proprietress of the exclusive Golden Pearl brothel hiding behind the exotic mask she always wears? The Lords of Vice have always lived on the edge, but can the Marquess of Sainthill really mean to cross the line and make a brothel madame a part of his family?
The answers to these questions can be found between the covers of this book, but yet others remain unanswered. We get a very nice lead in to Hunter’s book, which is the next one up. There is not a lot to the story and, in fact, the highlight of this book is visiting with all the lords of vice and seeing what loving husbands reformed rakes make. We meet the most villainous Royles family and some of their cronies who cover the spectrum of rape, abuse, and blackmail, but disappointingly they do not meet their just desserts within the pages of this book. At the risk of echoing some of the other reviewers who have been saying “where’s the rest of the story?,” I have to ask the same question. All these tantalizing threads that could have made this a very strong story are just left to hang with no closure or resolution.
There are a lot of ingredients for a strong story, but they never materialize into anything substantial leaving me feeling almost cheated. Perhaps this might have been better kept to a novella than a full book. Our heroine had a horrific childhood and fell into prostitution at a young age. I admire her drive that causes her to make the best of her circumstances and set up a successful business in the trade that she understands. However, her actions, such as bedding one of the other lords in Saint’s inner circle to help her deal with her strong attraction to him or her thoughts about bedding her brother to get back at the mother who had abandoned her or flirting with her father like a light skirt, did not endear her to me at all.
I enjoyed the possibilities in her blood-thirsty approach to the Royles father and son and wish we could see more of that spirit through the book. But when she succumbs to blackmail or running away, one has to wonder at the disconnect with this weak-spirited and almost fearful heroine to the other strong woman who rose from adversity to live life on her own terms. Yes, she craves respectability and does live two separate lives in two very different worlds, but I don’t feel that her strength needed to be submerged. It almost appears as though the author herself was conflicted about the heroine and that’s why it seems like there are two distinct personalities that are warring to emerge and in the end there are some lovely possible suspenseful plot lines that are left hanging.
This is definitely not one of the author’s best, and I sincerely hope that Hunter’s and Frost’s books go back to the previous style that we love and expect.
Simon Jefferes, the Marquess of Sainthill, has done the unthinkable—he’s fallen in love. The so-called “Saint” has spent his life gambling, dallying with women, and satisfying his every whim. And he fully intended to continue his wicked ways, until he met the mysterious, exotic, and irresistible Madame Venna—the one woman he can’t have…and the only one he’s ever wanted for more than an evening.
The proprietress of the Golden Pearl, one of London’s most exclusive brothels, Madame Venna takes pride in the lush, decadent club she’s created. With a half-mask to conceal her identity, she’s careful to safeguard something even more valuable—her heart. But Saint is determined to tear down the walls she’s built around herself, and to finally expose the truth—that Madame Venna is a woman very much in love…with him.
Read an excerpt.
Other books in this series: