Worth Any Price was not my first choice for the TBR challenge, but it's the book I finished, so it'll have to do :) In case you're wondering, my first choice was Midsummer Moon by Laura Kinsale... but it seems I've hit a wall while reading it. Which tells me I'm not buying any other books by Ms Kinsale till I manage to finish at least one of her books sitting in my TBR pile - I have 4. That makes sense, right? Or at least, it should LOL.
Last month, I re-read Devil in Winter by Lisa Kleypas for my Re-Read Challenge and I mentioned the war between Sebastian and Derek for Lisa Kleypas best hero. Both Holly and Leslie came forth to indicate that their choice for favorite hero is Nick Gentry. It got the ball rolling as I remembered Holly mentioning in back then as well and I was sure I had the book... even started reading it. So I looked on my shelves and sure enough, there was my copy :) I thought this would be a good opportunity to pick it up again :P
Worth Any Price by Lisa Kleypas
published by Avon in January 2003
What is the price of love?
Nick Gentry is reputed to be the most skillful lover in all England. Known for solving delicate situations, he is hired to seek out Miss Charlotte Howard. He believes his mission will be easily accomplished -- but that was before he met the lady in question.
For instead of a willful female, he discovers one in desperate circumstances, hiding from a man who would destroy her very soul. So Nick shockingly offers her a very different kind of proposition -- one he has never offered before.
He asks her to be his bride.
And he knows that this will be much more than a union in name only. For he senses what Charlotte does not yet know -- that her appetite for sensuality matches his own. But what Nick learns surprises him. For while London's most notorious lover might claim Charlotte's body, he quickly discovers it will take much more than passion to win her love.
Genre: Historical romance
Series: Bow Street series, Book #3
The Story: Hmmm, I felt the blurb tried to sell the book too much by being over-dramatic. For example, sure Nick might be the most skillful lover... but was he reputed for it? Nope. Was Charlotte in such desperate circumstances when he finds her? Nope. Would Radnor destroy her very soul... Perhaps, but "destroy" is such a strong word. Anyway.
Nick Gentry used to be an underworld lord as well as a thief-taker (as I understood it, kind of a bounty-hunter) and that is how he amassed his fortune. However, he's had to turn a new leaf when his older sister married Sir Ross, a magistrate who's been working hard to bring Nick down. Thus, Nick changed profession and became a Bow Street runner which suits him well as it allows him to live on the edge.
One of Nick's private commission investigation is to find Radnor's run-away bride, Charlotte Howard. AFter two months of work, Nick finally locates her on Westcliff country estate as the Dowager's companion. However, upon meeting Lottie, Nick knows there is no way he'll turn her to Radnor... as he wants her for himself.
Two years ago, Lottie ran away from her finishing school and family to escape Lord Radnor's tight grip on her life. While Lottie's family is of good blood, they are poor and thus, they have enjoyed Lord Radnor's patronage in exchange of Lottie's hand. However, Radnor has wanted to mold Lottie into his expectations of a perfect woman, disregarding Lottie's nature and personality. Lottie got resigned to her fate; however, she also understands that Radnor's obsession with her is not normal... and thus, she decided to flee. Now that she is caught by Nick, Lottie realizes that there is only 2 options in front of her: run away once again, knowing that she'll always have to watch her back and hide because Radnor will not let her go or remove herself permanently from Radnor's reach through marriage... to Nick. Lottie chooses the second option, but she'll soon find out that life with Nick is full of surprises... especially since Nick Gentry is not whom he claims to be.
My Opinion: Ms Kleypas is a very popular author and I get why. I mean her writing is excellent and her books are different. Kristie has been complaining about the multitude of titled heroes and while Ms Kleypas has some, most of her characters are not and that makes them interesting. I do enjoy Ms Kleypas books, but the problem is no matter how much I want to, I don't love them... and it is the same with Worth Any Price :(
The strength of Worth Any Price was definitively its characters. I can certainly see why Nick Gentry is Holly and Leslie's favorite hero. He is definitively a very interesting character with lots of depth and a past that definitively gives him an edge. I liked the fact that he was so young, only 27 years old, but at the same time, because everything he has gone through, he has this maturity beyond his years. His personality was shaped by what he went through in life and that's good characterization to me. However, it seems that Nick's character was developed throughout the series and having not read the first two books, I did feel like I was missing something and that's very unfortunate. As for Lottie, I liked her as well. She was a good heroine with a head on her shoulders. She was independent and gutsy enough to run away to avoid marriage with Radnor, she was smart enough to assess her situation once Nick found her and made good decisions and still innocent enough to enjoy life at its fullest and be sweet :P She was a good match for Nick and I enjoyed the chemistry between them. I liked the fact that she was able to overlook Nick's "treachery" when they met, recognized and admitted the attraction between them and go from there, instead of dwelling on the past. Even after she learned more on Nick's past, she made efforts to understand Nick more and have a relationship with him. As a result, we get a very sensual book, I was kind of surprised at the level of heat :P
Unfortunately, I felt the storyline did not measure up to the characters. It wasn't bad per se, but there was not enough intensity for such strong characters. The storyline seemed quite passive and all the action, exciting parts were superfluous as they were not really related to the main plot. I usually like plots that are focused on the H/H relationship, but it didn't feel that way in Worth Any Price, probably because there were no obstacles between them.Yes, Nick had issues with his past that he had to work out, but it wasn't really enough to sustain a whole book. Sometimes, you need a bit more balance between relationships development and side plots.
I did like the twist about Nick's identity and how he was manipulated by his brother-in-law and I thought that part could have been more prominent and developed. It would have been interesting to see how the peers accepted Nick and his transition into his new position. Although, there are a few details I didn't get... why was his title still available? I mean, to my knowledge, when there is no heir for a title, it is reverted back to the regents who choose someone to assume the title no? So how can it sit idle for 20 years? Also, the characters kept saying Nick needed something to occupy himself and they propose he takes on some causes, etc. Hum, taking care of estates and tenants who have been neglected for 20 years is not enough work? The whole plot with Lottie's family, I thought Lottie and Nick could have been more forceful. While the parents were not deserving, the kids were innocent... and so, it seemed to me Lottie and Nick could have spent a little more time to make the parents understand that Nick could take care of them. By the way, the ending with Radnor - very anti-climatic ^_^;
Out of curiosity, was this the first book Westcliff appeared in? Funny how he seems to be the most recurrent characters of Ms Kleypas :D
My Grade: B. Very strong and likable characters; however, a storyline that fell flat a little bit :( Don't get me wrong, I still enjoyed Worth Any Price, but I think it could have been more, better.