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Monday, March 19, 2012

REVIEW: "A Lady Never Surrenders" by Sabrina Jeffries


A Lady Never Surrenders by Sabrina Jeffries
(Hellions of Halstead Hall #5)

Historical Romance-Regency
Simon & Schuster--January 2012
Paperback, 384 pages 







SUMMARY

When the youngest Sharpe sister hatches a plan to gain marriage offers, the straight-laced Bow Street Runner Jackson Pinter knows he'll do whatever it takes to ruin her scheme...

With two months left to find a husband to fulfill her grandmother’s ultimatum, Lady Celia Sharpe sets her sights on three eligible bachelors. Becoming betrothed to one of these wealthy, high-ranking men will surely prove her capable of getting married, so hopefully the wedding itself won’t be necessary for Celia and her siblings to receive their inheritance. Step two of her audacious plan is hiring the dangerously compelling Bow Street Runner Jackson Pinter to investigate the three men she’s chosen. But with Lady Celia bedeviling Jackson’s days and nights, the last thing he wants is to help her find a husband. And when she recalls shadowed memories that lead his investigation into her parents’ mysterious deaths in a new direction—putting her in danger—Jackson realizes the only man he wants Celia to marry is himself.


MY THOUGHTS

A Lady Never Surrenders is the conclusion to Sabrina Jeffries's Hellions of Halstead Hall series which covers the adventures and romances of the scandalous Sharpe family.  In addition to the last sibling (Celia) getting their love story, Jeffries also provides readers with the answer to the question of the Sharpe's parents' tragic deaths.

One of my favorite aspects of Jeffries's books is her heroines.  She is not afraid to emphasize their intelligence and seems to thrive on giving her ladies some unexpected qualities without making them appear too modern.  Celia is a fascinating heroine who is intelligent, strong-willed, and thoughtful.  Her shooting ability and the reasons behind it are wonderful quirks that make her stand out amongst the thousands of Regency heroines in books today.  I also liked that Celia had some insecurities which she hid from everyone, including her family.  It made her more sympathetic withouth making her appear whiny and full of self-pity. 

Celia's counterpart is Jackson Pinter, a Bow Street Runner who was hired early in the series to aid the Sharpe's on their quest to find the truth about their parents.  Jeffries has offered very little about this character in the previous books, but there has been enough to make me excited to find out more about him.  And I was not disappointed!  Jackson is a wonderful hero with a complicated past (he's illegitimate) and an obvious affection for Celia.  One of my favorite romantic cliches is unrequited love on the part of the hero which is definitely a huge part of Jackson's appeal to me.  He is attracted to Celia from the beginning, but is unwilling to pursue her due to their difference in station.  I was very sympathetic to Jackson's plight and even found myself close to tears during some of his inner monologues. 

Since the moment Jeffries introduced Celia and Jackson together, it was obvious that there were sparks.  Sexual tension is in full force with these two and I enjoyed seeing them deal with it in some highly amusing ways.  The way that their relationship changes over the course of the book is realistic, due to the amount of time they have spent with each other in previous books, and entertaining.  I especially enjoyed the shooting contest between them...it reminded me a bit of the infamous Pall Mall game in Julia Quinn's The Viscount Who Loved Me

Readers also get to see more of the fabulous interactions between the Sharpe siblings.  I really like how Jeffries has depicted the relationships in this family: they aren't perfect, but they care deeply for one another.  There was also very little of the stereotypical "look how happy we are" scenes with past couples which I definitely appreciated.  Mrs. Plumtree (Celia's grandmother) did get a little on my nerves in this book with her machinations and distrustful opinions of Jackson and Celia's growing relationship.  She does a few things that seemed a little out of character even for a woman who was demanding marriage in exchange for inheritance. 

The only part of the book that bothered me enough to knock down the rating was the conclusion of the mystery.  Readers have gone through the past four books and watched the Sharpe's develop more and more theories regarding how and why their parents died.  There is a conclusion to this issue which I found slightly melodramatic and obvious.  I enjoyed the overarching storyline that linked the books together, but wish it hadn't been as anticlimatic.  But, this is a minor quibble since I enjoyed Jackson and Celia's love story that much.

Overall, I found this to be a satisfying conclusion to a well-written series.  The whole Sharpe family is wonderful to read about and I loved the unique storylines.  Jackson and Celia were probably my favorite couple of the series!  Highly recommended!!

Rating: 4.5 Stars--Really Liked It!

SERIES INFORMATION

Hellions of Halstead Hall
1. The Truth About Lord Stoneville (Oliver/Maria)
2. A Hellion in Her Bed (Jarret/Annabel)
3. How to Woo a Reluctant Lady (Giles/Minerva)
4. To Wed a Wild Lord (Gabriel/Virginia)
5. A Lady Never Surrenders (Jackson/Celia)

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