Taming Lord Renwick just plain has too many pages for the amount of
plot. It starts out in fine fashion, then runs out of steam, and throwing more wood on the fire in the guise of additional characters doesn't get it going again.
We first meet Lieutenant Lord Jason Renwick on a tiger hunt in India. The lieutenant is in the company of a maharaja and his spoiled young princeling son; when the headstrong boy is attacked by a mankilling tiger, Jason is injured trying to save him. The boy survives, but the cost to Jason is his sight. Even the maharaja's reward and bestowment of the potential guardianship of the prince cannot compensate for this.
Fast forward to an English inn a few years later. Eustacia Coleson is listening to yet another of her stepmother's harangues about the wisdom of accepting a marriage offer from Mr. Weaver, a man Eustacia finds utterly loathsome. Eustacia wishes to provide for her stepmother, but not at a cost so high. As they are conversing, they are overheard by Lord Renwick, sitting in the inn with his pet white tiger, Sahib, by his side. Lord Renwick remarks to his aunt that he could listen all day to the melodious voice of the unknown young woman. This is all the encouragement Lady Blackburne needs. If her beloved nephew wishes to listen to that voice, she will fid a way to make it happen.
Feigning a friendship with Eustacia's dead mother, Lady Blackburne offers her a chance to visit the Renwick country estate. Eustacia, no fool, knows Lady Blackburne is lying, but leaps at the chance, and the two women soon come to an understanding. Eustacia will read to Lord Renwick and perhaps get him interested in relating his India adventures for a book. In return, Eustacia will be compensated, not to mention removed from Mr. Weaver's clutches before it's too late.
Jason and Eustacia hit it off and begin work on his journals. And this is where the book started to deflate. We have a charming, wounded hero and a lively, intelligent heroine. Each carries physical scars. Their deepening friendship could have set the scene for a gripping romance, but instead, various side characters start trooping into the story, starting with the bratty Prince Ravi and his guard, Bahadur. Sahib acts up and gets his
share of the text. Jason's friend Ian McMurrey arrives. The stepmother and Mr. Weaver also show up, now married to each other, and start behaving threateningly. In short, there is so much outside action going on that the romance gets lost.
Not that Eustacia or Jason set the pages on fire, mind you. Readers are treated to stiff, bland conversations that don't seem to show them deepening their understanding of one another. In short, there's little chemistry between them to make up for the lack of attention spent on their romance. A predictable sub-plot involving Mr. Weaver does little more than afford Jason a chance to play hero.
Though the writing is technically good, I can't recommend Taming Lord Renwick. It was a chore to finish, and the promise of a spinoff featuring Ian McMurrey left me uninterested in pursuing it.