Pride and Pleasure
by Sylvia Day
(Brava, $14, R) ISBN 978-0-7582-3172-7
***
Pride and Pleasure is a bit of a mismatched love story between opposites that falls apart as the characters fall for each other.

Mr. Jasper Bond is a thief taker, a professional man who accepts commissions on behalf of his crew who investigate all sorts of suspicious happenings in London. Heís also the bastard son of the deceased Lord Montague, a nasty man who shamed and used his mother for years after his birth. Jasperís planned a very careful revenge on the Montagues and, as his father is dead, his half-brother, the current Lord Montague, will have to bear the sins of his father. Jasperís plan is shaping up nicely, he holds the marker on the Montague lands, and Lord Montague is nearly destitute due to gambling and bad investment losses, most of which have been facilitated by Jasper.

One day, Jasperís mentor Mr. Lynd recommends him for a thief-taking job, and sends him to St. Georgeís chapel to meet with Eliza Martin. Eliza is a unique heiress, an intelligent bluestocking with many suitors eager to marry her fortune. Eliza isnít interested in any of them for anything other than a turn around the park or the dance floor, she has promised her dear Uncle, Lord Melville, that she would come out for six seasons and then she would be allowed to retreat to the country to rusticate in peace.

Eliza looks forward to that hope of quiet existence, and she likes keeping her own ledgers and renting properties anonymously to female business owners. It keeps her busy and fulfilled. Recently, Eliza has experienced some alarming accidents that seem intended to scare her, and she has decided to hire a thief taker to protect her, investigate the possible causes of her mishaps and court her. The courting is important to draw out Elizaís possibly fortune hunting suitor who is willing to scare her into taking a husband for protection.

Upon their first meeting, Eliza realizes that setting up an appointment with Jasper was a mistake. Heís too handsome, too magnetic and too predatory for her to resist. She doesnít know if she can withstand his charms for long, or if she wants to. Jasperís intrigued by Elizaís straightforward, forthright manner, he has never met anyone like her and heís excited to take on a new investigation to get to know her better.

However, the vengeful justice-seeker is unprepared when he begins feeling overly protective, and even jealously about his new employer. The fact that she openly admires him physically, and quite clearly tells him about his list of charms doesnít help him retain the professional distance that he knows he should be maintaining. He doesnít want to anymore, even knowing that this will probably end badly.

Pride and Pleasure is a re-told story, itís The Bodyguard and all of the other protector who falls in love stories wrapped up in a neat 1818 London package. The protector who falls for his charge story is successful because it appeals to a womanís sense of wanting to be taken care of, but we usually know how it will end before the second chapter begins. Day adds in a few fun details to keep the story fresh, which works well. There is something that I thought detracted from the tale, and I will elaborate.

We are introduced to the convincingly intelligent, not so socially adept, independent, capable Eliza Martin who maintains a strong and believable character until she and Jasper fall in lust. Then she goes against her own ideals, throws her previously iron-willed convictions to the wind, and throws herself into an ill-advised, this-has-got-to-end-badly romance with a man way below her social standing. Not only is he in trade while she is the Earlís niece, he is also a bastard, with unsavory associates, and proves himself to be single-mindedly bent on vengeance as well as unscrupulous. Why yes, Eliza, I can see why you are so attracted to him just because of his blatant sexuality, because what other quality could you see in him? Yikes.

Jasper is a good bad guy type of hero. He was likeable since he was honest for the most part about who he was and what he was doing. The action in the story was fast paced, richly layered with background characters (read: suspects). I enjoyed the plot, although surprises and unexpected twists were not found here.

Pride and Pleasure would be a good read if youíre a fan of The Bodyguard-style stories, and if you donít mind a fairly predictable type of story. Otherwise, take your reading allowance elsewhere.

--Amy Wroblewsky


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