Reader’s Edyn

I always felt like I could do something more than just read. Finally, I have found both a creative outlet and a chance to do something meaningful with my reading. This blog was created in appreciation of and tribute to all of the authors who have brought me joy through their books. These reviews are my way of giving back to authors and providing recognition for the hard work that each one completes every day!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Review (ARC): Confessions From An Arranged Marriage (The Burgundy Club, Book 4) by Miranda Neville

Title: Confessions From An Arranged Marriage
           The Burgundy Club Series, Book 4
Author: Miranda Neville
Release Date: March 27, 2012
Publisher: Avon; Harper Collins
Category: Historical Romance
Type: Kindle/Paperback


Book Blurb:

They couldn't be more different—but there's one thing they agree on . . .

In London after a two-year exile, Lord Blakeney plans to cut a swathe through the bedchambers of the demimonde. Marriage is not on his agenda, especially to an annoying chit like Minerva Montrose, with her superior attitude and a tendency to get into trouble. And certainly the last man Minerva wants is Blake, a careless wastrel without a thought in his handsome head.

The lights and din of her debutante ball set Minerva's teeth on edge. Surely a moment's rest could do no harm . . . until Blake mistakes her for another lady, leaving Minerva'sguests to catch them in a very compromising position. To her horror, the scandal will force them to do the unthinkable: marry. Their mutual loathing blazes into unexpected passion but Blake remains distant, desperate to hide a shameful secret. Minerva's never been a woman to take things lying down, and she'll let nothing stop her from winning his trust . . . and his heart.

Book Excerpt:

            He recovered adroitly with no more than a firmer press of his hand, warm on her waist through her silk gown. He danced well, she grudgingly admitted, even though she was pretty sure he was foxed. He must have shaved himself for he’d missed a bit, on the left jaw. Fair as he was, she wouldn’t have noticed if she’d been more than six inches away demanded by the waltz.
            “Is your valet indisposed, or were you not at home when you changed for the evening?” An impertinent question the skirted impropriety, but there had always been something about Blakeney that made her lose her poise and behave like an unschooled savage.
            The curve of his lips matched hers while his eyes lit with malice. “Since you ask, Miss Montrose, I came from Henrietta Street and the house of Mademoiselle Desiree de Bonamour.” He spoke in deep mocking tones. Though there was no reason fair coloring shouldn’t be accompanied by a low baritone, in Blakeney Minerva always found the combination incongruous. “She’s a very hospitable lady. When I realized I was late she invited me to share – er – use her bath.”
            Infuriated with herself for blushing, she almost lost her temper. She wasn’t the least bit interested in the Frenchwoman, universally proclaimed (though mostly out of earshot of unmarried girls) as the most beautiful in London.
            “I suppose you seek to embarrass me by mentioning your mistress,” she said.
            “No,” he said. “Just to remind you that I have better things to do than cater to the consequence of an ambitious miss.”
            “Then we find ourselves in perfect accord,” she retorted. “I have better objects of my attention than a spoiled wastrel without a thought in his head except for sports.” She favored him with a sweet and utterly insincere smile.
            “Sports? Miss Montrose. I’m not thinking of sports now.”
            Minerva wasn’t sure what the last riposte meant. He might be thinking of what could be doing with his mistress, or, equally likely, that he’d like to kill his current partner. With four brothers, Minerva was an expert at inciting the desire to commit violence. The smile she’d just employed could reduce the youngest Montrose to rabies.
            She tried to read Blakeney’s face, in case it became necessary to duck and avoid strangulation. “I wouldn’t want to disturb your mental exertions, Lord Blakeney. I shall remain silent until we finish the waltz and may be done with each other.”
            “It will be my very great pleasure, Miss Montrose, never to dance with you again.”
            It took ever ounce of her considerable willpower to keep a simper on her face and her feet off his; she was tempted more than once to stamp hard on the lout. She might have done it, by accident of course, if not for her doubt that her satin evening slippers would be able to inflict much pain on his big clumsy feet. Well not clumsy exactly. Even drunk they moved with deft precision after the one initial slip. His smile was as steady as hers, and from their expressions an onlooker would likely believe them to be enjoying the waltz in perfect accord.
            They completed the set without exchanging another word.

Dialogue Highlight:

            Now, when she was at last getting her chance to speak, he distracted her by sitting too close and holding her hands and looking at her. She’d never experienced deep blue eyes focused on her with such intensity. Her heart beat faster and her stomach fluttered and she felt her control slipping away, as though she might do something without forethought. Like kissing her husband. And though she’d decided the day before that she would kiss him again, she’d also decided that it would be at a moment of her choice. This was not the moment and she would not succumb to her unruly impulses.
            Breaking the lock of their gazes, she snatched free her hands and edged away from him up the sofa. She took a deep breath to clear her head. “While you have been jaunting around with your horse-loving friends, I have been putting my time to good use.”
            “Sounds Hazardous.”
            “No more dangerous than drinking tea with the wife of the Austria ambassador.”
            “Spilled tea can burn badly if very hot. I’m sure the Autrians serve hot tea.”
            “I made the acquaintance of Princess Walstein.”
            “How charming for you. Does she have a firm grasp on her teacup?”
            “She has a firm grasp on her friendship with the Austrian royal family. She’s a friend of the Empress Marie-Louise.”
            “Remind me …”
            Minerva turned her head sharply. Could he possibly have forgotten the significance of Napoleon’s widow, or was he simply being annoying? Hie features were set in bland incomprehension but she thought she detected a glimmer of laughter in his eye.
            “The former Empress of France.”
            “The mother of the Bonaparte heir.”
            “Of course.”
            “Princess Walstein is a close friend and member of the imperial household. I can guess what she’s doing in Paris.”
            “Buying new clothes? Meeting her lover?”
            “Women do think of things besides clothes,” she said. “And lovers.”
            It was time to take control of the conversation. “I believe Princess Walstein is here to investigate support for the restoration of the Duke of Reichstadt as emperor.”
            “Or to buy clothes.”
            “I’m not making this up. I have reasons to think so. I observed her in close – very close – conversation with the Duke of Mouchy-Ferrand.”
            “Oh yes, my old friend Mouchy.”
            “Do you know who he is?”
            “Haven’t a notion.”
            “It’s a Napoleonic dukedom. His father was a general who managed to avoid taking sides after Bonaparte’s escape from Elba by claiming illness and remaining at his country estate.”
            “Very sly.”
            “Well, it turns out he really was ill,” she said. “He died on the day of Waterloo. It means his son never had to state his preference. In fact, after the Restoration the new duke was a member of the Ultras, the Count of Artois’s conservatives.”
            “Doesn’t sound like much of a Bonapartist to me.”
            “He must be very clever. I can’t think of any reason why he’d be speaking so earnestly with the Princess. In German too, so no one would understand. Everyone else present was French and, as far as I can tell, very few of the French speak German. Luckily I can. I heard them arranging a private meeting.”
            “Is she pretty?”
            Minerva gave up in disgust. He refused to take her seriously, but she knew she was right. She had her ideas about how to discover the reason for that meeting.
            “Scoff if you want,” she said, “but I’ll get proof that the duke is a Bonapartist and you will owe me a favor.”
            Blake leaned in and lowered his head close to hers. “I’ll look forward to it,” he murmured, his breath warm on her cheek. “And I look forward to your favor.”
            “I don’t owe you one,” she said, disgusted that her voice was a little wobbly.
            “In fact you do, Minnie.”


Blake has always been viewed as lazy and irresponsible. A seeming disappointment to his parents, and a poor option as a replacement for his powerful father. But Blake has allowed these assumptions to occur and has taken steps to see that such stereotypes remain. Blake has a secret. A shortcoming of sorts and he would rather the public view him as lazy than the idiot he thinks himself to be.

Minerva has had political aspirations for some time. She is highly intelligent and dreams of having a voice of her own in the future. He goal, when she encounters Blake at the ball given in her honor, is to secure a proposal from a future-husband who can lead the way to making her dreams come true. Unfortunately, a chance encounter with Blake, paired with mistaken identity seals her fate in exactly the opposite direction she wanted to head in – or was it?

Blake and Minerva – a couple that, against all odds, actually ends up making sense. A couple those, if first impressions are to be believed, were a phenomenal example of opposites. I have to admit, I initially did not hold very high hopes for this couple. They seemed so m ismatched that I had trouble seeing them as a couple, let alone a powerful couple in the ton with vast amounts of influence. Minerva seemed too intelligent for Blake and he didn’t seem to stand a chance of being able to manage such a spirited woman with near unattainable dreams for her future. But first impressions, in this case, were completely off the mark. Blake ends up an entirely different individual than the reader is introduced to. Minerva as well, seems somewhat cold and standoffish as a female MC, but ends up exhibiting raging passion within many aspects of her life – specifically anything she sets her mind to and anyone she cares for. I feel that the excerpt I chose is a good example of just how difficult a match the two seem to be. And in contrast, the dialogue highlight I chose - one of my favorite in the book - I chose because it shows so much about the characters. Those that can read between the lines can see Minerva’s competitive spirit as well as her political ambitions and Blake’s humor paired with a suggestion that there is more to him than presented on the surface.

This is the first book I have read from Ms. Neville and the fourth in this series (The Burgundy Club). While I believe reading the preceding books would have helped endear me to the characters sooner, I also believe that I was granted a favor in reading this book first with these particular characters. I read a review recently of this book in which the reader was concerned about the characters because of their descriptions in previous books. Good point. Given this bit of information, I may not have been interested in these characters enough to read their story. I suppose it all depends of the type of character you prefer. For me, skeptical as I was as I began this book, I am glad that I read it first. This is actually saying quite a lot coming from a person who, whenever possible, is anal about reading in order.

I have to say that I was slightly disappointed with the intimate scenes. Rather strong language was presented fairly early in the book, making me believe that the scenes would be steamy and somewhat dirty (dirty in the “my cheeks are burning, but I am loving every minute of it” kind of way). Sadly, they were not. Don’t get me wrong. The scenes were well written and entertaining. And I very much enjoyed “watching” the passion grow between Blake and Minerva, but I felt they could have been just a bit steamier.

Overall, I enjoyed my time spent with Confessions From An Arranged Marriage. I liked the secondary characters enough to further explore their stories and have added them to my TBR list. Minerva, while initially perceived as overly intelligent and mismatched to Blake ends up being quite a lot of fun in her escapades. And Blake, with his sense of humor and points of weakness that shake his confidence, which he effectively shields everyone from – everyone except the astute Minerva – makes him a much more likeable character once the reader understands his motivations. And while these characters are not my preferred type, I found that I enjoyed the transformation from first impressions to the essence that truly was Blake and Minerva.

(Digital ARC provided by author for review.)

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