Y’all remember Katy Madison’s visit last year.  Katy writes gothic historical romances.  AWAKENING HIS DUCHESS had one of the most unique misfortunes to befall a hero I’d ever read, all based in & backed up with facts.  Fascinating.

lords scandalous offerHere’re my thoughts on the first in her Curse of the Coleraine’s series.

Brody Gilvaroy is the present Earl of Colveraine, son of the Evil Earl.  Brody is currently being pilloried in the press, condemned by them for a murder he didn’t commit before the investigation is even completed.  Shunned by society he’s the last person anyone would credit with helping a woman.   

Tessa Hall fell from grace ten years ago and has been paying the price ever since.  Considered a pariah by respectable people in the know she is living on sufferance with her cousin, Lady Avondale.  When Lord Avondale makes her continued residence untenable Tessa has no one to turn to but Brody.  

LORD COLERAINE’S SCANDALOUS OFFER, while certainly suspenseful and a mystery didn’t qualify as gothic for me.  In gothics you’re never quite certain about the hero and the heroine’s in constant peril. He’s dark, brooding, and there’s always a chance he’s guilty of the heinous acts he’s been accused of.  Brody’s actions and demeanor are in direct conflict with the stories and rumors so I never questioned his innocence.  Tessa, though ostracized, never came across as imperiled. 

Tessa doesn’t initially trust Brody due to the whispers that women who’ve associated with him disappear and the articles in the papers.  Both are in direct conflict with her instincts but with her past how can she consider trusting herself as far as men are concerned?  Tessa longs to regain her respectability and yearns for a normal life as a wife and mother.  That dream appears to be forever beyond her reach no matter how circumspect her behavior.  

Brody is trying to discover the identity of Jane Redding’s true killer.  He’s wracked with guilt that her association with him may have caused her death making him, by extension, guilty of her murder.  Brody is one of those heroes that shoulders the guilt of others as his own.  He’s tortured but honorable and honest.  He offers Tessa his protection and surprisingly gives her options other than his bed, despite how badly he wants her there.  There’s never a doubt he’s innocent though there are many questions surrounding him and his past.  What happened to his wife?  Where are the women who were previously under his protection?  

Throughout the book Tessa struggles with her obvious attraction to Brody; determined that if she can’t be a wife she will never be a mistress, the cost is simply too high. It’s easy to sympathize with Tessa’s struggle.   Her resolution to this, near the end, struck the wrong chord with me. It was rushed and frankly, a disservice to Brody regardless of time constraints.  My other issue was the ending itself.  Series or no it left me frustrated.

Ms. Madison is adept at creating intriguing and sympathetic characters in suspenseful and mysterious circumstances so I’ll read the next in the series.  Maybe those burning questions I was left with will be answered. One hopes.

3.25 stars

So, do any of y’all plan to read the Coleraine series?  Anyone already read it?  Agree?  Disagree?  Meet somewhere in the middle?  C’mon, let’s talk books.