Monday, 14 October 2013

Lady Sophia's Lover by Lisa Kleypas

Lady Sophia's Lover (2002) (Piatkus)
Lisa Kleypas
Grade: A-
Genre: historical romance
Sex scenes: hot
Source: own 
Bow Street Runners: (1) Someone to Watch Over Me, (2) Lady Sophia's Lover

Sophia Sydney will get her revenge on Sir Ross Cannon. Orphaned at a young age with no money or estate left when their father, the Viscount died, Sophia and her brother John were left to fend for themselves. Sophia eventually landed herself a respectable job as housekeeper for a distant cousin, but John ran off the rails and ended up being sent off on a prison hulk ship, dying of cholera and buried in a mass grave. The man who sent him to his unjust fate? Sir Ross Cannon, Chief Magistrate of the Bow Street Runners, paragon and monk of Bow Street.

When Sophia realises that Ross isn’t the old, fat and portly gentleman she envisioned, she stumbles but ploughs ahead with her plan. She’s going to get herself hired as Sir ross’s assistant, make him fall in love with her, ferret out secrets that will ruin Bow Street and break his heart in the process. Simple.

What Sophia didn’t factor in was Sir Ross’s kindness, generosity and stalwart dedication to carryng out his duty to the best of his ability. As Sophia spends every day working by his side and every night living in his house, she comes to the shocking conclusion that she might have done the impossible and fallen in love with her employer … and the man she’s supposed to hate most in the world …

Heroes and Heartbreakers recently did a fantastic post on genre-hopping authors and Lisa Kleypas is definitely a big player that was missing from the list. If I could wish for her to just stick to one genre, it would be historical, but there have been some gems amongst her contemporaries (namely Sugar Daddy and Blue-Eyed Devil). Lady Sophia’s Lover joins one of the many, many gems that I consider to be her historical backlist.

Despite publication more than a decade ago, there’s still something refreshingly contemporary about Lady Sophia’s Lover. I think this is attributable to the fact that despite being a Regency historical romance, the main characters are not pampered and privileged members of the peerage, but hard-working men and women who aren’t afraid of getting their hands dirty. Ms Kleypas is an old hand at writing dynamic and multi-layered middle- and lower-class characters, from heroes that were born in the gutter (Derek Craven, Dreaming of You), heroines who are published authors in their own right (Amanda Briars, Suddenly You and Sara Fielding, Dreaming of You) to heroes that run hotels (Harry Rutledge, Tempt Me at Twilight) to name a few. It was fascinating to see Sir Ross at the helm of the great machine that is Bow Street, during a time when the Police force had still to be established. The ease with which he agreed to employ Sophia as his assistant and housekeeper was fantastic (considering this was the 1830s) and as predicted, the entire office fell at her feet.

I was never really convinced of Sophia’s hatred for Sir Ross. I’m studying ‘hate crime and the law’ as an autumn module for final year, and our very first seminar discussed the meaning of hate and its relevance in describing hate crime. The conclusion was that hate crime isn’t really about hate at all, but prejudice, bias, dislike, hostility and the like. Although the story mentioned several times of Sophia’s deep hatred for Sir Ross that has led her on this path for vengeance, Lisa Kleypas didn’t do a very good job at convincing me that Sophia felt any of the things above, let alone the utter loathing that was meant to fuel her every action.

Lisa Kleypas’ historical romances tend to be very hot, and Lady Sophia’s Lover was no exception. In the five years since Sir Ross’s wife died, he’s had only one lover and that affair lasted only a few months. For the better part of four years, his sexual restraint has earned him the nickname of the ‘Monk of Bow Street’ and as soon as he sets his sights on Sophia, he knows that this woman has the power to be the women to end his sexual drought, as well as turn his life upside down.

Lady Sophia’s Lover is the second book of the Bow Street Runners series, but reading the first book (Someone to Watch Over Me) isn’t a pre-requisite. What I would say is that if you’re going to read book three in this series, Worth Any Price (review coming soon), Lady Sophia’s Lover is a must. Recently, I’ve definitely become less prescriptive about reading books in order, but these are two books that I insist on. Lady Sophia’s Lover is a perfect example of Lisa Kleypas’ backlist-historicals at their best and a must-read if you want to read more of the genre, more of Lisa Kleypas or both.

Image courtesy of Fantastic Fiction

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