Review: An Improper Arrangement by Kasey Michaels

An Improper Arrangement by Kasey Michaels
Series: The Little Season (# 1)
Release Date: January 1, 2016
Publisher: Harlequin
Pages: 384
Source: book provided by NetGalley for review

 

 

Experience the drama of the Little Season in the first of a new series by USA Today bestselling author Kasey Michaels, in which three dashing war heroes have finally met their matches…

Gabriel Sinclair has returned from battle as reluctant heir to a dukedom. As if his new responsibilities weren’t enough, Gabriel’s aunt enlists him to sponsor a young heiress through London’s Little Season. Yet Miss Thea Neville is hardly the tedious obligation he expected. She’s exotic and enchanting—and utterly unaware of the secret poised to destroy her family’s reputation.

After ten years in America, Thea is ready to do her duty and marry well. Deportment lessons, modistes, balls—the ton is a minefield she could scarcely navigate without Gabriel’s help. By rights, she should accept the first bachelor who offers for her. Instead, she’s succumbing to a dangerous attraction to her wickedly handsome chaperone—one that could unhinge her plans in the most delicious way.

 

Review:  I must confess I am burned out on Regency period historical romance.   It seems there is only so much you can do within that time frame, plot wise, and so I often feel as though I am reading the same story over and over, only with the names changed.

However, I have read several books by Kasey Michaels, a seasoned author, capable of writing across several romance genres, and always enjoyed them, so I was pretty confident her work would be fresh and enjoyable, which is why I decided to start reading this series.

The plot is indeed original, with Gabriel returning from the Neapolitan war with anger and bitterness towards Henry Neville, a man responsible for the problems he endured in battle. He also finds himself the heir to a dukedom, which he doesn’t want, and to make things even more complicated, his aunt has devised a way to get even with Henry. The plan involves a young lady named Thea, who is returning to London after spending the last ten-years in America, ready to  ‘come out’ in the ‘little season’.

Gabriel’s job will be to chaperone Thea, teach her the rules and manners of the ‘ Ton’, all the while planning to use her in his revenge plot, knowing a secret about her that would be her ruination if it was ever discovered. Reluctantly, he agrees to do his aunt’s bidding, but when he meets the vivacious and outspoken, Thea, he discovers he has met his match in more ways than one.

I had a little trouble getting into this story at first. I was at least four or five chapters into the book before the characters began to take shape for me, but it flowed relatively well after that, with only a few rocky areas, along the way.

The old Duke, Basil, suffering from hypochondria is also at the center of the story, in a way, since his health or lack thereof,  play a major role in Thea and Gabe’s plans.  This side story was also a source of humor, as is the witty dialogue between Thea and Gabriel. Thea commands Gabriel’s respect like no other woman ever has, and he finds himself falling for her, which is definitely NOT a part of his plan. The couple will banter back and forth all through the story, which is very amusing at times, but after a while the banter threw a wet blanket on the chemistry, making the romance feel a little forced and unemotional, especially since Thea took such a practical and almost droll approach to her attraction to Gabriel.

What I liked about the book was the revenge and retribution angle of the plot which could possibly expose a huge scandal, which is risky, but will set certain wrongs to right, and give Thea the chance to challenge and confront people who are trying to skewer her good name and reputation in order to save their own. Not only that, Gabriel becomes her knight in shining armor, having her back every step of the way.

Thankfully, this story spares us from the usual storylines we read in Regency romances, and replaces it with a cute, but sensitive story, without compromising the strong female protagonist requirement, and remains true to the era, for the most part.

While I can’t say this is Ms. Michaels’ best work, I enjoyed the book enough to try the second book in the series, which will tell Cooper Townsend’s story.  So stay tuned!

Overall, I enjoyed this story and found it a refreshing break from the usual Regency fare.

 

Julie

 






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