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Monday, March 5, 2012

REVIEW: "To Wed a Wild Lord" by Sabrina Jeffries


To Wed a Wild Lord by Sabrina Jeffries
(Hellions of Halstead Hall #4)

Historical Romance--Victorian
Pocket Star--November 2011
Mass Market Paperback, 384 pages 

Rating: 4 Stars--Really Liked It







SUMMARY

Drowning in guilt over his best friend's death seven years ago, Lord Gabriel Sharpe, the Angel of Death, knows his only hope at redemption is a race against a shocking opponent.

Shrouded in darkness for the past seven years, the infamous racer Lord Gabriel Sharpe is known to accept every challenge to race thrown at him. When his next challenge comes in the form of his late best friend's sister, Virginia Waverly, Gabe is shocked. Yet she presents just the opportunity Gabe needs--marriage to fulfill his grandmother's ultimatum and ensure his inheritance. What he didn't count on was needing her love.



MY THOUGHTS

The Sharpe family is the focus of Sabrina Jeffries's Hellions of Halstead Hall series.  This is a group of men and women who lost their parents in a tragic accident during their childhood and were raised by their extremely formidable grandmother.  Unfortunately, they became known as hellions throughout London society due to their scandalous adventures and unorthodox views.  Finally, their grandmother had enough of their hell-raising and provided them with an ultimatum.  They must all marry within a year or every single one of them will lose their inheritance.  So far, three of the five Sharpe siblings (Oliver, Jarret, and Minerva) have found love and married with only Gabriel and Celia remaining.  To Wed a Wild Lord is Gabriel Sharpe's story and what a unique concept was involved with this one.

Gabriel is a prolific racer who is racked with guilt over the death of his best friend in a dangerous race years ago.  Since that tragedy, he has become known as the Angel of Death and perpetuates this reputation by dressing completely in black and attempting to cheat death at all times.  Virginia Waverly is the aforementioned best friend's sister and she is seeking revenge for her brother's death by challenging Gabriel to a race.  But, imagine her surprise when he counters her suggestion with a marriage proposal.

I have enjoyed all the books in this series and To Wed a Wild Lord is not different.  Gabriel, like his siblings, is a unique, but tortured character.  The guilt that he feels over his friend's death  is extremely important to his character and has shaped him in ways that do not become obvious until much later in the book.  He tries to make it seem like he is searching for a bride merely to save his own skin, but it goes much deeper than that.  It also appears like he is using his courtship of Virginia to lessen his guilt which is also only the tip of the iceberg.  I love it when authors provide me with a character that has so many layers and I have a great time peeling them back and discovering the true person underneath.

Virginia is a bit more of a typical Regency romance heroine.  She is intelligent, pretty, and extremely capable.  Ever since her parents' death, she has helped her grandfather run his horse farm and has done it in such a way that it takes Gabriel's observation for her to realize the depth of her skills in this area.  Her quest for vengeance is complicated by Gabriel's proposal so she makes him work for it which I loved.  Through her interactions with him and his family, Virginia learns to truly care about Gabriel as well as learning the truth behind her brother's death.  There were a few moments where I was frustrated with her reactions and overreactions, but, overall, found her to be a delightful character.  

While most of the book focuses on the romance between Gabriel and Virginia, there are a few subplots that kept my interest, but did not overshadow the main story.  The overarching subplot of the series involves the mystery of the Sharpe parents' death.  The theory was that their mother shot their father and then shot herself in remorse.  But, the siblings have discovered that there may be more to it and have spent much of the series trying to figure out the truth.  There is a little bit of time spent on the mystery, but much.  I have found myself getting bored with this subplot so I am excited to read the final book and end this seemingly endless situation.

Jeffries also has a few secondary romances emerging that grabbed my attention.  Hester, the Sharpe's grandmother, gets her own little romance in this book which was sweet and slightly unexpected.  There was not alot of time spent on this particular substory, but I enjoyed it anyway.  I am also particularly intrigued by the interactions between Celia, the youngest Sharpe, and Jackson, the Bow Street Runner hired to help solve the murder mystery.  There is so much sexual tension between these two that I cannot wait to focus more on their relationship and how Jeffries will counteract their obvious status differences. 

Overall, this was another entertaining historical romance by one of my favorite authors.  I love the way that Jeffries portrays the Sharpe family and why they each have their own reasons to avoid, and then, pursue marriage.  While the characterizations and plots may appear formulaic at times, I still find myself enthralled by the adventures and misadventures of this family.  Can't wait to read A Lady Never Surrenders and see how Jackson and Celia take their squabbles to the next step.

SERIES INFORMATION

Hellions of Halstead Hall

*The Truth About Lord Stoneville (Oliver and Maria)
*A Hellion in Her Bed (Jarret and Annabel)
*How to Woo a Reluctant Lady (Minerva and Giles)
*To Wed a Wild Lord (Gabriel and Virginia)
*A Lady Never Surrenders (Celia and Jackson)
*Twas the Night After Christmas (Pierce and Camilla) [To Be Released 2012]

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