This was always one of my favorite books in the series because I liked the romance and the plot. That remains true though there a few things that kind of jumped out at me in this reread and once I noticed them, they only got more annoying which is why the star is four, not five.
Christian's story actually begins in the epilogue of Beyond Seduction, and there's been some hints of Christian's past (very tiny ones) but the romance been Christian and Leticia is definitely my favorite in the series. They have a history, much like Charles and Penny in A Lady of His Own, but their past is more ably dealt with and actually presents a huge conflict for them to overcome. And I liked that as soon he learned the reason Letitia hadn't waited for him but had married Randall, he immediately took the blame on himself and acknowledged his own failures. He completely let her off the hook which I liked.
When it comes to characters, I still liked them a lot but here's my main problem with Letitia. She's apparently a member of a wild family who have insane tempers, are known for their impulsive nature...and yet, Stephanie Laurens never shows us this behavior. She tells it. Every time we get a "Vaux" tantrum, we don't get any dialogue. She describes it.
And at every turn, the Vaux nature, the Vaux tendency comes back. Over and over again. Stephanie Laurens has always had a piece of description that she tends to beat into the ground (Jack calling Clarice Boadicea or warrior queen) but this was particularly annoying because I was supposed to see Letitia as a certain kind of character and she just never was.
The plot and murder mystery is pretty good, and Dalziel plays into this one a bit more than we've seen before but that makes sense because his book is next. Some of the other reasons (beyond the Vaux nonsense) that this book, despite being really good, doesn't make it to five stars are more spoilery so suffice to say this is the best book in the series thus far, the equal to A Fine Passion, though I think I like Clarice a smidge more than Letitia.
Beyond the Vaux issue, there's also a problem, for me, with the way Laurens presents Letitia and her marriage to Randall. Wives are supposed to go into deep mourning at least for a time after their husband passes. Someone who didn't observe the traditions would get themselves into some kind of scandal. That's been true about other books she's written that exist within this larger world.
But....in this version of the society despite the fact that Letitia clearly married down (even if it wasn't as far down as the truth turned out to be), she is socializing within days of the death of her husband. And those annoying grand dame of society are cool with it, because hey, they didn't like Randall anyway. They all want her to marry Christian.
Here's my problem. It never rings true, and I'm just trying to figure out what was so damn awful about Randall that he deserves to basically be erased. Did he buy his bride? Yeah, but don't they all? Was he charming? No. Did he demand marriage in exchange for getting them out of debt? Yeah. But...the family is out of debt. Did Leticia give him a chance? No, it seems not. In fact, she is proud that she held back so much that she basically killed Randall's sex drive.
I'm just like...the only reason we're trying to solve Randall's murder is because Letitia won't disgrace herself with a scandal attached to her family and bring that to Christian. It just...I don't know. It bothers me. Especially since Randall wasn't doing anything nefarious. He was running some gaming hells, trying to sell them, and got killed for it. Did I miss a part where he was the reason the family was in debt in the first place?
Yeah, he wanted Letitia's sister to marry a duke and Justin didn't like him but--I don't know. It's probably just me.
The Edge of Desire (Bastion Club, #7)
Overall This was always one of my favorite books in the series because I liked the romance and the plot. That remains true though there a few things that kind of jumped out at me in this reread ...