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Books Read in 2014: LOVING A LOST LORD by Mary Jo Putney

Friday, March 14, 2014

Loving a Lost Lord by Mary Jo Putney

Loving a Lost LordBook Blurb:
In the first of a dazzling series, Mary Jo Putney introduces the Lost Lords—maverick childhood friends with a flair for defying convention. Each is about to discover the woman who is his perfect match—but perfection doesn’t come easily, even for the noble Duke of Ashton…

Battered by the sea, Adam remembers nothing of his past, his ducal rank, nor the shipwreck that almost claimed his life. However, he’s delighted to hear that the golden-haired vision tending his wounds is his wife. Mariah’s name and face may not be familiar, but her touch, her warmth, feel deliciously right.

When Mariah Clarke prayed for a way to deter a bullying suitor, she didn’t imagine she’d find the answer washed ashore on a desolate beach. Convincing Adam that he is her husband is surprisingly easy. Resisting the temptation to act his wife, in every way, will prove anything but. And now a passion begun in fantasy has become dangerously real—and completely irresistible.

My Review:

Rating: 3.5 stars

      Goodreads bookshelves: books-read-in-2014, hist-19th-c-georgian-regency-napoleonic, historical-romance, read
      Read from March 2 to March 13, 2014

Let me start this review off by saying that, as an author, if you have to write a scene in which your characters have a serious discussion about all of the “coincidences” that have happened to them in the last twenty or thirty pages . . . YOU HAVE TOO MANY COINCIDENCES!

This was only my second non-paranormal historical romance by Mary Jo Putney. I really do enjoy her writing style; but I, like many of the other reviewers at Goodreads, apparently, was somewhat disappointed in the lack of follow-through on the promise of the story premise.

The Amnesiac
First, let’s talk about the elephant in the book: Adam’s amnesia. I’m not someone who’s drawn to this trope in romance for one very important reason: for me, the idea of someone falling in love without knowing who he is or where he came from or who might be waiting for him at home isn’t palatable. Then there’s the idea that once the memory comes back, it’s necessarily going to change the person and, thus, the relationship. So I have to take a huge leap to suspend my disbelief when I read a book with this trope.

That said, I think Putney handled Adam’s POV scenes very well. Although we’re “told” Adam’s identity and ethnicity (half-English, half-Indian) through the (unnecessary) first chapter featuring his three BFFs and Lady Agnes, the surrogate mother and head of the school where the four men met, we do get to discover who he is along with him as his memories slowly come back to him through small sight/sound/smell triggers and through dreams. I thought this part was well done and it made me more comfortable with the idea of his developing a romantic attachment during this time. (Oh, if only there had been an actual development! But I’ll get to that later.)

A Crazy Person Lives Here
In Mariah’s first scene, I was a little concerned that she was slightly off her rocker—she has an “imaginary sister” named Sarah who “talks” to her in her head and chides her for being too much of a wild child (because, after all, isn’t that what all romance heroines are supposed to be?). Around the time that this got to be annoying, however, Putney toned this part down in favor of a somewhat more sane Mariah.

Mariah lives in a big house by the sea in Cumberland (northwestern England) which her father won gambling. Her father has dragged her from pillar to post—from city to country house—most of her life as he moves from game to game to game. Apparently, he’s been relatively successful yet this has put them on the fringes of society. The women at these house/gaming parties give Mariah all of their castoff gowns, so she has good clothes, but out of fashion, so she’s learned how to alter them to be stylish.

Let the Coincidences Begin!
Her father goes off to London to try to reconcile with his family (whom Mariah knows nothing about because he’s never talked about them). But shortly thereafter, George Burke, Hartley’s former, neglectful, owner appears to tell Mariah that her father has been killed by highwaymen. She doesn’t believe him initially, even though he shows her her father’s ring, but then she receives a letter from her father’s lawyer confirming it. Burke hangs around and presses himself and a courtship on Mariah. To try to dissuade him, she tells him that she’s already married but that her husband is away at war. (This takes place in 1814-15 between the end of the Peace of Amiens and Waterloo.) Of course, she has no way to back up that claim. Worried about this, she takes the incense her (Roma/Gypsy) grandmother left to her and goes outside to burn it to pray about the situation (for a husband).

As soon as she finishes her prayer, she feels an “urging” to go down to the beach. And, lo and behold, there’s a man in the water. She rescues him and he’s still alive! She assists him up to the house and, once she realizes he has amnesia, she asks him if that means he doesn’t remember that she’s his wife.

Here’s where the development of the relationship should be. She comes up with the name “Adam” (oh, how coincidental!) for him with her own last name, telling him they’re cousins. Even though he doesn’t remember her name or her face or anything about her, he immediately feels that being married to her is “right.”

Even though it’s not specifically called it in this book, the “fated to be together” trope is one that really doesn’t work for me in romance novels—usually because it means that the author opts out of the hard work of showing the building of a relationship and growing attraction between the two main characters. While Adam and Mariah enjoy being around each other and feel a frisson whenever they touch (and, eventually, have sex) I was never convinced that they’d actually built a deep relationship that would sustain a lifelong partnership.

Then, there are the breakaways to the viewpoints of his three friends who are searching for him. These were scenes that you’d expect would build suspense and add to the tension of the book (would they find him before Maria told him the truth?) but in all actuality, they just took up pages in what little space was given to the time in which Maria and Adam’s relationship should have been developing.

After M&A finally consummate, she reveals the truth to him—after all, even though he has amnesia, he doesn’t miss the fact that she was still a virgin. And here’s where the timing/plotting of the novel goes awry. Instead of concentrating on the new obstacle of rebuilding trust, while still trying to regain memory, Putney brings the three friends swooping in to tell Adam who he is and whisk him back to London. (And his name is really Adam—what a coincidence!)

Adam tells his friends that Mariah is his fiancee (which they are none-too-happy about, assuming she’s a fortune hunter and nowhere near good enough for their Adam), so she is invited to go with them to London. She takes Julia, the midwife in town, as her chaperone(apparently they’re supposed to be really good friends—enough that Julia knows the truth about Mariah/Adam’s relationship—but they don’t really interact that much in the book either before or after they go to London, and there were hints at a scandal in Julia’s past, and one of Adam’s friends wouldn’t look at her much less talk to her politely, so she and he must be a setup for another book in this series).

Oh, and I should mention at this point, that the three BFFs discovered evidence of sabotage in the wreckage of Adam’s prototype steamship (the one that blew up and gave him amnesia and deposited him so conveniently on Mariah’s beach), so there’s someone trying to kill him.

M&A have made a pact that because they’re not really married and because they’re not sure what’s going to happen once they get back to London (and because Adam is a duke and Mariah, they believe, a commoner).

No, wait. What? Really? What the . . . ?
At luncheon the day they arrive in London, Adam’s aunt and cousin Hal (his heir and the prime suspect in the plot to assassinate Adam) arrive to welcome him home. When Adam introduces Mariah to them as his fiancee, the aunt drops the bomb that she can’t be—Adam is engaged to her daughter. (Someone’s read Pride & Prejudice a few too many times, but I can’t tell if it’s me or Putney!) So, now things are even more strained between M&A. If Mariah hadn’t gone to London hoping to find out about her father, she would have left on the next coach out of town.

M&A go riding in Hyde Park the next morning (did I mention that Adam owns the largest private home in all of Mayfair?). It’s all going well—until the groom shouts to Adam that there’s a gunman in a tree. They gallop the horses away, but not before a bullet grazes Adam’s shoulder. Another man tries to help the groom catch the shooter, but to no avail. The other man turns out to be a retired Army officer who knew Adam’s father and asks if he can call on him, to which Adam agrees.

M&A go to visit Mariah’s father’s lawyer—who didn’t send Mariah the letter and didn’t know her father was dead. So, what happened to all the letters she sent to the lawyer that were never answered? Hmmm . . .

At this point, I pretty much kept reading for the sheer enjoyment of all of the WTFery that was going on in the book. The Army officer appears with his wife and stepdaughter—who just happen to be Adam’s real mom (supposedly dead in India) and sister (he never knew about). He also has two half-siblings. Ooh, how coincidental that the man who just happened to witness Adam getting shot at in the park is married to Adam’s long-lost mother! (Oh, as soon as he sees his mother, he regains most of his memories.)

Then, when they’re still trying to figure out who wants to kill Adam, Mariah’s father bursts into Adam’s office and accuses him of holding Mariah against her will, all because he went with her to the lawyer’s office and was watching her “closely.” What a coincidence! Not only is Adam’s mother (reported dead when Adam was a child) alive, but Mariah’s father (also reported dead) is alive!

But that’s not all!

Mariah’s father has something he wants to show Mariah, and she invites Adam along (of course). He takes them to a townhouse on the other side of Mayfair and unlocks the front door with his own key. Inside . . . (wait for it) . . . are Mariah’s mother (whom Mariah believed died when Mariah was two) and her identical twin sister who’s name just happens to be . . .

are you ready for it?

have you guessed it yet?

SARAH—remember the voices in Mariah’s head in the beginning that led me to believe her a nutter? Yes, that Sarah.

How coincidental is that???

There are a few other coincidences along the way that I won’t bother boring you with, and, of course, the person trying to have Adam killed turns out to be the most obvious person ever. And, of course, the aunt turns out to have lied about Adam being engaged to his cousin. So, all works out hunky-dory and Adam proposes to Mariah as they lie in bed together, using the Hindu idea of reincarnation and loving beyond lifetimes as part of his wooing strategy (not that he needs to because, obviously, they were fated to be together—thus all the coincidences, right?).

Putney is a good writer and I enjoy her style. I do plan to read the other books in this series, because I am interested in the BFFs, and to see what happens with Julia. I just hope that there aren’t as many “plot twists” in those books as there were in this one, because the ones in this book wore me out!

______________________________________________

My rating matrix:
5 STARS = one of the best I’ve ever read
4 STARS = a great read, highly recommended
3 STARS = it was okay/not a favorite
2 STARS = I didn’t enjoy it all that much, not recommended
1 STAR/DNF = I hated it and/or Did Not Finish it

One Comment leave one →
  1. Ruth permalink
    Monday, March 24, 2014 6:36 pm

    This sounds like an insanely nutty time. I’ll have to check it out. 🙂

    Like

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