Thursday, May 6, 2010

Review: The Truth About Lord Stoneville -- by Sabrina Jeffries

In the two decades since the death of his parents, Oliver Sharpe, Marquess of Stoneville, has survived the scandal surrounding that fateful night by living as an unrepentant rakehell. And with his grandmother vowing to disinherit him if he doesn't settle down and wed, he plans to fulfill the bargain in true Sharpe stylle--by bringing home a fake fiancee from a brothel! But his scheme is derailed when he rescues an American beauty in a bad situation instead. Maria Butterfield and her cousin are seeking the whereabouts of her erstwhile fiance who left Massachusetts a number of months ago and has been missing, no word of his comings or goings, and no answers to her letters. This, however, does not stop Oliver from getting what he wants: her, in his bed. His rebellious masquerade may call his grandmother's bluff, but it's soon made all too clear that he is in danger of falling in love--a love that tempts him to be a hellion no more.

Oliver Sharpe was a gentle, caring, hurting, wounded man who had convinced himself that he was a rogue like his profligate father, who had no conscience, no morals, no honor, and who was unable to either give or receive love. Yet his deep attachment to his grandmother, Mrs Hetty Plumtree, widow and owner of Plumtree Brewery, as well has his constant caring and oversight of his four siblings gave the lie to those convictions that Oliver used to keep distance between himself and any other human beings. He drank and wenched his way through the weeks and years until his grandmother said "Enough!!" and essentially gave all five of the Sharpe siblings the glad and happy word that their life of ease was to end in twelve months if all five of them were not married and on their way to being settled with spouse, children, hearth, and home. Not only would they all have to do without her financial support, they would all end up at Halstead Hall, the family estate, which could hardly support itself, much less the five of them.

So Oliver begins his search for a whore who would be paid to be his fake fiancee for two weeks. It was his hope that he would so upset his grandmother that she would abandon her edict. In a separate but very humorous set of circumstances, Maria Butterfield and her cousin Frederick Dunse (can you even believe that name?) find themselves in dire circumstances, facing hard time for thievery unless the Marquess of Stoneville intercedes. He is not prepared to do this (and all this action takes place in his favorite brothel--how Maria and Frederick get there is a hoot) unless Maria agrees to play the part of the fake fiancee. She has no choice but to agree, and he finds her a dreadful dress, bought, no doubt, from one of the hookers, and he takes her home to introduce her as his dearly beloved to his grandma and all the family. Now this particular grandmother is not as harmless as she looks. She is clever and conniving (in the best possible sense of the word) and determined not only to bring Oliver to his marital knees, but to also find a woman who will begin to believe in him and help him move past the horror that has changed him from a dutiful son at age 16 to the rogue he is now. The progress of this novel as both the grandmother and Oliver's siblings begin to recognize the growing attachment between Oliver and Maria is funny, grand, and an excessively good read.

Jeffries has written some wonderful books, and this is the beginning of a series about each of these five siblings. She has used her considerable writing skills to create the character of Oliver in poignant language, fleshing him out to be a person who wants desperately to believe in himself but he is so afraid to do so. After all, didn't his own mother proclaim that he was a disgrace to the family? Maria is a woman to make all American women proud, especially if one understands the world in which she was raised. The reader will encounter each of these people throughout the story and at the end will have a wonderful sense of family that is deep, broad, generous and caring. The missing fiancee wafts in and out, but throughout there are some surprises with some twists and turns that keep the reader's interest and propel one on to the next page. I know that at the end of this story I was quite anxious to read the few pages that were the teaser for Lord Jarrett's story, the next novel in this series.

This is a grand historical romance in the truest sense of the word and any lover of this genre will come to appreciate the story, the characters, and the historical surroundings that give this novel its depth and context. And Jeffries' fans will find this a worthy addition to her growing body of work.

I give this book a rating of 4.75 out of 5.


Tracy said...

I really liked this one as well. I can't wait to read the next book in the series!

Jill D. said...

I went to RT in Columbus and Sabrina Jeffries read a chapter from this book. We were supposed to be playing bingo by looking for key words as she read. I was so enthralled by the story I wasn't paying good enough attention to the bingo card. Lucky for me I received a copy of this book in my RT bag and I can't wait to continue the story. I am glad to hear that you enjoyed it.

Dr J said...

Jill: what fun to have met the author. Hopefully that is something I can experience in the future as I think Jeffries is a very good writer. It is always fun to hear directly from authors -- where they receive their inspiration, how they develope a story, etc. Thanks for stopping by. Dr. J+