18 September 2012

The Duke's Tattoo

Summary from Goodreads:

First comes revenge then comes love and marriage in The Duke’s Tattoo, a historical romance set in Regency England.

After being grievously wounded at Waterloo, Jeremy Maubrey returns from war to find his new life as the tenth Duke of Ainsworth painful, dull and full of obligations. That is, until he wakes to find himself indelibly decorated in a mortifying place and mocking manner.

Though he cannot recall much of the hellish night when he was abducted and tattooed, he cannot forget the waif-like villainess responsible or her haunting eyes. Ducal duties must wait till he finds the culprit and takes his revenge.

Miss Prudence Haversham, Bath’s only female apothecary, knows she has a problem. A big, broad shouldered problem. At least she will have, if the tenth Duke of Ainsworth ever discovers she is to blame for tattooing him. Unfortunately, she meant to have tattooed the previous Duke of Ainsworth, who tried to debauch her and disgraced her with his lies. Worse yet, she learns this duke is one of four infamously implacable cavalry officers known as ‘The Horsemen of the Apocalypse.’

No sooner has the vengeful duke traced his abductress to Bath, than Prudence Haversham overturns the duke’s every expectation and intention. In turn, the duke proves himself an honorable and surprisingly forgiving man who earns the wary apothecary’s love.

I generally shy away from self-published work - what I have read previously is spotty at best.

This book, though, is an entertaining, well-thought out start to a new Regency series - "The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse." Intrigued?  And it came recommended by Lady Wesley, on Goodreads, and she's has pretty good/similar taste to mine.

This first book finds Jeremy Maubrey, tenth Duke of Ainsworth, waking up after a night of, well, who knows - he can't quite remember what happened - to find that he has acquired a tattoo. In a rather sensitive location ("tup a lamprey?" has got to be a catchphrase somewhere). Miss Prudence Haversham has long harbored a grudge against the Duke of Ainsworth for ruining her reputation as a teenager. Not Jeremy, but his elder brother, Phillip. Prudence doesn't know that Phillip has died and when presented with the opportunity to revenge herself on the Duke, she does. Only to take a closer look later and realize she snared the wrong man. Jeremy seeks to take his revenge for his tattoo...we all know where this is heading - it's a romance novel!

I liked both our hero and heroine. Jeremy is a man unprepared to turn himself into a pink of the ton, being used to military life, and Prudence has found her own way - as a trained apothecary - in a society that is unforgiving to women who misstep. And they have the customary trust issues and "helpful" best friends.

I really only have two major quibbles with this book:
1) Prudence's odious brother and sister-in-law aren't very well-drawn. Therefore, I really didn't understand the motivation to essentially throw a teenage girl out of her brother's house. Prudence hints that the SIL doesn't like her, but we don't see much evidence of this.
2) The falling action drags on. Very few romance novels violate convention and fail to deliver the Happily Ever After (this is why On the Way to the Wedding delivered a heart-stopping scene before giving us the HEA - it actually seemed for about 10 pages that it wasn't going to happen). Sending Jem to London where he dithers there for several chapters followed by multiple scenes where Prudence refuses Jem's offer of marriage. Over and over. Needed a bit of tightening up.

That being said, it was as very entertaining and quick read. Best wishes to author Miranda Davis on the rest of the series!

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