01 July, 2013

Review: At Your Pleasure by Meredith Duran

I can't explain this cover. It's wrong for the era and vaguely disturbing. She looks like a vacant doll. Of course, Nora kind of is a vacant doll at times but still....

Wait, what? This isn't a Regency? At Your Pleasure is set at the end of Queen Anne's reign? This is a Jacobean / Georgian that never goes to Scotland? Shut! Up! I'd say how did I miss this when it came out but I already know the answer. Despite being one of my favorite authors Duran fell on the Agency Pricing sword. Anything priced higher than MMPB I neither purchased nor requested for review. Recently there's been some more realistic pricing for Duran's books so I grabbed the ones I'd missed.


Where do we start? Nora is a widow holding her brother's estate after her father's conviction for treason. With George the 1st coming to assume the throne, her family has chosen to remain Jacobites. Adrian, her former lover, is a Catholic lord fighting to maintain his own properties in a time of religious intolerance and upheaval. George sends him to capture Nora's brother, a task he's very willing to undertake. And with that set up, Duran is quickly off to the races. This is old school romance in the sense that the stakes are far higher than someone being embarrassed. The lives of Adrian and Nora, as well as those of their people, are very much in play. Nora's loyalty to her brother could end up costing all of them everything.

Nora is a woman of both limited and limitless power. Her actual standing is small but her ability to influence the elements at play is huge. Her conflict is choosing between her family or her future. Have they gambled on the right side of the royal cause? Does it matter? Does she owe more to herself or to her brother and father? Whose version of history is true - Adrian's or Nora's? Or neither? There was so much in Nora's conflict I responded to as the age old problem of family interest versus personal interest played out. Even more engaging was Adrian, stuck as he was playing all things to all people while trying to protect those determined to self destruct. It's too rare that I really love a romance, but I loved At Your Pleasure and was sorry to see it end. This is the kind of book I want when I say I want something different in the genre that's also exactly the same.

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