The Dangerous Baron Leigh commits the ultimate cardinal sin of the
romance genre. Not just ineffective writing or poor plotting or silly
characters, though those abound. No, even worse, this book is just plain
Lady Jocelyn is traveling to her cousin Lora's house party in Derbyshire
when her carriage is caught in a torrential downpour. When they reach a
hill, the load must be lightened, and since her maid is taking a chill,
Jocelyn offers to get out and walk. As she's slogging uphill in the mud, a
horse canters up and a man offers her a lift. He turns out to be Lord
Peter Leigh, a rejected suitor from Jocelyn's past.
Seems Jocelyn spurned Peter five years ago because he awakened some
unseemly emotions in her. So she sent him away. Now they are thrown
together again at the house party, and Peter makes no secret of the fact
that he's just as attracted to Jocelyn now as he was five y ears ago.
Jocelyn doesn't know what to make of this. Her heart still pitter-patters
at the sight of Peter.
Cousin Lora isn't too happy, either. A valuable necklace is missing, and
she doesn't know who stole it. Peter and Jocelyn decide they will
investigate and unmask the culprit.
And there you have it -- the sum total of the plot. Peter and Jocelyn spend
a lot of time sneaking in and out of the guests' bedrooms and hiding on
window ledges endeavoring not to be seen. When they aren't playing amateur
sleuth, they're trading dull quips. Or Peter is casting meaningful,
sensuous glances at Jocelyn. Or she's wondering if Peter still hates her.
Not exactly scintillating stuff.
The secondary characters are equally lifeless. All the guests seem to be
Odious French, which puzzled me a bit. They also stalk off and huff and
toss their heads a lot. Why most of them have to be sneering twits was
beyond me. Maybe to try and make Peter and Jocelyn look a little less
empty-headed? It didn't work.
The plot suffered from gaps in logic, too. Peter strolls in and out of
Jocelyn's bedroom and nobody lifts an eyebrow, but when they are stranded
for less than an hour in a cottage in the rain, everyone seems to expect
he'll propose marriage. Which he does. This gives Jocelyn even more time
to wonder if Peter really loves her or if he was just being gentlemanly.
Since Peter spends a lot of time trying to pull Jocelyn into his heated
embrace, etc., it made her seem even less astute.
The effect of The Dangerous Baron Leigh on this reader was a big
yawn. The Regency genre has much better to offer than this. Give it a pass.