THE DANGER IN TEMPTING AN EARL by Sophie Barnes

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At the Kingsborough Ball (Book 3)

This book is a Regency romance, which Wikipedia defines as follows:

Regency romances are a subgenre of romance novels set during the period of the British Regency (1811-1820) or early 19th century. Rather than simply being versions of contemporary romance stories transported to a historical setting, Regency romances are a distinct genre with their own plot and stylistic conventions that derive from the works of Jane Austen (and to some extent from distinguished Austen progeny such as Georgette Heyer and Clare Darcy), and from the fiction genre known as the novel of manners. In particular, the more traditional Regencies feature a great deal of intelligent, fast-paced dialog between the protagonists and very little explicit sex or discussion of sex.

I’m bringing this up because it seems to me that this definition is now in a state of flux, due to the enormous popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James. Or more to the point, the profitability of romances with explicit sex seemingly has changed the Regencies from tame to taking a walk on the wild side. I, for one, am enjoying the change.

According to the author’s Goodreads page, this is the last book in the Kingsborough Ball series. The books all begin at the same lavish affair, a hugely popular ball given by Anthony Hurst, the Duke of Kingsborough. As this is the first party held at the estate in more than five years, it is a very big deal and the ton are out in full force.

Lady Katherine and Lucien grew up together, neighbors who played together. But as they grow up, Lucien realizes that he is in love with Katherine, but they cannot marry. She is destined to marry a man with a title, and he is the second son. He joins the army to escape, and she marries Lord Crossby, Lucien’s rival all through school.

But Lady Crossby is desperately unhappy in her marriage, although she doesn’t let anyone know about the abuse she endures. Then several events conspire to bring Lucien and Katherine back together – his elder brother and father die, and Lucien inherits the title of Earl. And Lord Crossby dies as well, leaving Katherine a widow with a young baby.

Katherine is convinced that Lucien just regards her as a friend and after her horrible marriage, she has no desire to be married again. Lucien needs a wife, but he only wants Katherine. They are at crossed points until she slowly realizes that her childhood friend has grown up to be a most desirable man. There is also a mystery that runs through all these books that is resolved here, so the mystery is a much larger part of this story.

I enjoyed these characters and the while these books don’t stress the history of the era, they are fast, fun reads and this one was no exception. There was some explicit sex, so if you are used to traditional Regencies peeking through the bedroom door, keep in mind this door has been flung open wide, which works for me.

I’m not sure why Barnes has decided to end the series here. Each book stands alone and they do not have to be read in order. As I haven’t read a whole lot of Regencies, I’m not sure if this device of starting each book at the same ball is a common ploy, but I liked it and thought it was very well done. I’ll be looking for more from this author.

7/14 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE DANGER IN TEMPTING AN EARL by Sophie Barnes.  Avon (July 29, 2014). ISBN 978-0062245182. 384p.

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