Other Tina Gabrielle reviews are available in the Archives.

In the Barrister’s Bed
by Tina Gabrielle
(Zebra, $6.99, PG-13) ISBN 978-14201-2275-6
Here is the second in a series about a group of barristers in the early 1800’s who are all friends and all have different reasons for choosing this career. This story features James Devlin, who is known to be the bastard son of the Duke of Blackwell, even though he is the oldest son. James was raised by nannies and in schools, seeing his father only one week a year at the Wyndmoor Manor estate. His grandmother paid for his education but other than that, had nothing to do with him. His younger brother Gregory was raised to be the Duke since he was the result of a marriage, albeit one where the Duchess died giving birth. James has made a successful career of the law and is not unhappy. Upon his deathbed, his father reveals that he was actually married to James’ mother, but when she died in childbirth, he felt it was easier to lie. The story opens with his Grandmother informing him that he is now the Duke of Blackwood.

James’ first act is to try to buy back Wyndmoor Manor, which had been sold by his father a few years earlier. He arrives only to find a young woman and her maid living there, with an identical deed to his. Hers had been signed three days earlier, but he is the only one to have had the deed recorded. They both think they have claim to the property and agree to share the dwelling temporarily under the dispute can be resolved.

Bella Sinclair is a widow and not in mourning, even though a full year had not yet passed. Her husband Roger was a thief, smuggler and involved in selling arms to the French, hence possibly even treason. He was also cruel and a wife beater. He died one night after trying to beat Bella in a drunken stupor and he fell down the steps, breaking his neck. She had found his ledgers showing his treasonous activities and it even showed that his twin brother Rupert had also been involved. But threats against her servants and others kept her from turning them in. Now Roger is dead and Rupert wants the ledgers. He is threatening Bella and now those at Wyndmoor.

Tina Gabrielle has written a story that is fun at times, as Bella and James battle and challenge each other. Bella is determined to stand on her own two feet for the first time in her life and James has never met a woman he couldn’t charm into his way of thinking. When the danger hits, both show their courage and their resilience, impressing the other. They slowly grow in wary friendship and ultimately lust and love. Both characters are likable. The only downside to the tale is that it does drag a bit, as nothing is really happening. The pacing is therefore a bit uneven, with lots going on at times and then simple country boredom at others.

Having read both of the stories in this series, I am intrigued about the other two barristers, and look forward to their tales. But even if you have not, In the Barrister’s Bed stands alone and stands tall.

--Shirley Lyons

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