The next few days are probably going to be quite busy. My boss is expected any other days now (booo!) and the holiday season is starting for me officially tomorrow as we're having a work Christmas party. However, I'll try my best to have some reviews up :) I really want to review some of the books I've read lately! In the meantime, enjoy this one! :)
Disclaimer: I've received Pleasures of a Notorious Gentleman as an eARC from NetGalley
Pleasures of a Notorious Gentleman by Lorraine Heath
published by Avon in November 2010
As the black sheep second son of an earl, Stephen Lyons has gained a reputation in the art of seduction, but when his wicked ways result in scandal, he enlists in the army to redeem himself. On the battlefield, he proves courageous...until he is seriously wounded. Returning home to recover, he discovers he can't remember the angelic beauty who arrives at his doorstep, his babe nestled in her arms.Genre: Historical romance
Mercy Dawson will risk everything to protect the son of the dashing soldier she once knew and admired. When Stephen offers to do the honorable thing, she is determined that London's most notorious gentleman will desire her and no other. But Mercy fears that what began as an innocent deception could destroy her dreams and their blossoming love if Stephen ever learns the scandalous truth...
Series: London's Greatest Lovers, Book #2
The Story: I find the back blurb a little bit misleading so I'm going to attempt writing by own synopsis :)
Mercy Dawson was a nurse during the war and fell in love with the charming Stephen Lyons. Due to her infatuation and to repay his kindness, she took his newborn son under her wing... but what started off as duty quickly became love. When she learned of Stephen's death, she believes that sharing the last essence of Stephen with his family is the right thing to do. As John's mother, Mercy's only wish is to be able to remain by his side, perhaps as his nursemaid or governess... She never expected Stephen to still be alive!!
As the middle child, Stephen always resented his two brothers for their titles - an earl and a duke. Therefore, he set out to build himself a reputation as London's greatest lover, one that would surpass his brothers'. After some incidents however, it is time for Stephen to stop hiding from behind his mother's skirts and to make use of the commission his brothers bought for him so he could "build character." Thus, Stephen sets out for Russia where he does prove his worth. Unfortunately, a grave injury sends him back to London and he cannot remember any time he spent in the battlefield...
When Mercy shows up with John, Stephen is conflicted. What option does he really have then to marry the mother of his son... even though he cannot remember her. The biggest issue though is that he is not the same man... Not the man he was before he left for Russia and not the man he was during the war...
My Opinion: I really loved and enjoyed Passions of a Wicked Earl and could not wait to get my hands on Pleasures of a Notorious Gentleman. Then I remembered seeing it over at NetGalley and so requested it. As soon as I got the ARC, I simply devoured it :) While I loved Passions of a Wicked Earl more, I still enjoyed Pleasures of a Notorious Gentleman tremendously.
I knew going into Pleasures of a Notorious Gentleman that my enjoyment of the book would depend greatly on Stephen's characterization. Quite frankly, Stephen wasn't very likable in Passions of a Wicked Earl and I wasn't very interested in his character. There is nothing attractive in a man that resents his brothers for things they have no control over and who indulges himself thanks to his mother's love ^_^; So I was very curious to see how he would turn out in his book... and I was pleasantly surprised. Most of it had to do with the particular position Stephen found himself due to his amnesia. It was interesting to see Stephen struggle to reconcile the man who he was before war with his new self. He might not remember the two years on the battlefield and the circumstances that have shaped him; but it inevitably marked and changed him - physically and mentally. There was also his frustration with not remembering. Nobody likes to forget things, but in Stephen's case, it was worst because he didn't forget two years of mundane stuff. What he forgot was war: battles, deaths, fights, etc. Two years that have assuredly changed him. Of course, it might be a blessing that he couldn't remember the horrors of war, but at the same time, you want to know. I felt that all of this gave Stephen's character the depth that he was lacking previously and made him more interesting. Also the fact that his attitude was no longer cavalier made him more likable to me. In my opinion, even if Mercy and John haven't appeared in his life, Stephen would have looked for something that would ground him more...
As for Mercy, she was a great heroine. She was brave, generous and loving... but at the same time, she wasn't one of those flawless and perfect heroines. I liked her reasons for joining Miss Nightingale - not just because she could help and do some good, but because she was feeling restless. It made her more real to me :P She was also an interesting character because she wasn't the quaint, innocent lady like so many heroines in historical romances. It wasn't emphasized on, but really as a nurse, Mercy has seen it all - LOL, the naked body, but also the horrors of war. The experiences she has gone through, it made her see things differently and I think that's why she suited Stephen so well. It also translated into great chemistry between Mercy and Stephen and I felt there was a real connection linking the two. I really enjoyed their relationship, especially once they got married and Stephen realized it wasn't just lust. I felt that Stephen really trusted her and the two had something special.
Once again, Pleasures of a Notorious Gentleman is a book focused on its main characters and their relationship and I liked that. I liked that Mercy and Stephen got to know each other, I liked witnessing the beginning of their lives together and I liked that it wasn't rushed. Similarly to Passions of a Wicked Earl, the sex scenes were not clandestine since Mercy and Stephen were married or about to get married and seriously, it made me enjoy the relationship even more. The passion between them simply felt more natural and there were no worries about the repercussion :P Of course, there was a conflict to make the book interesting - a kind of misunderstanding that comes between Stephen and Mercy. While very cliché, it worked for me because Ms Heath did a good job at foreshadowing the event. It wasn't just something to add conflict because the story needed it. Instead, it was built into the story and unfolded naturally.
One thing that I really appreciated in Pleasures of a Notorious Gentleman was the relationship between the three brothers. I liked that they are mending the relationship slowly and that a precarious camaraderie is developing. Seriously, it would not have been believable for them to be suddenly best friends, even after Stephen has come back from the death. You know that they care for each other and that is what matters :) It was also nice to see familiar faces. I have to admit, I would have liked to see a bit more of Westcliffe and Claire... but really, that's just because I liked their book so much :P
My only complaint about Pleasures of a Notorious Gentleman is that I wished there'd been more scenes of Stephen with his son, John. There was one where John was crying and Stephen came in and ordered him to stop crying and then, took him in his arms. That scene was so cute... I wanted more and I really wanted to see more of a connection between father and son.
My Grade: B+. All in all, Pleasures of a Notorious Gentleman was another great book by Ms Heath :) I really enjoyed it and loved reading the romance between Mercy and Stephen. Can't wait for Waking Up with a Duke!! :)