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To Wed a Wild Lord by Sabrina Jeffries

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

To Wed a Wild Lord
Hellions of Hallstead Hall #4

Sabrina Jeffries
Historical Romance
Published in 2011

H/h - Lord Gabriel Sharpe/Virginia Waverly
Setting: London, 1825.

Read in Nov, 2011.
My rating:

                                                       [spoiler alert]

I don’t know what to say. I’m just feeling sad because I love Sabrina Jeffries’s books; my favorite series being The Heiresses, Royal Brotherhood and Swanlea Spinsters. But Hellions of Hallstead Hall has been a hit or miss series so far. I haven’t done any full review of any of SJ’s books so I’ll give a brief of The Hellions series at first. I won’t really go into the story since it didn’t really make an impact on me.

Oliver Sharpe (1st appeared in The Heiresses series), Jarett, Minerva, Gabriel and Celia, these 5 siblings lost their parents in one night. There have been plenty of rumors of what happened that night as both their parents were found dead together. Some said because of the previous Lord Stoneville’s infidelities, Lady Stoneville was upset and killed him and took her own life. In Oliver’s story, we saw a glimpse of what might’ve happened because his mother discovered him with a woman supposedly his father’s current mistress. This resulted into a quarrel (his mother was very upset thinking her son following her husband’s path). A guilty Oliver quite ironically followed his rakish father’s path, only he wasn’t married and had no intentions of doing it soon. Then, in Jarett’s story, we saw flashbacks from his POV. Like this, we see a flashback of every siblings’ POV that night and what might’ve happened. Now, Oliver’s Granny Hetty is the matriarch of the family. She’s been a strong, working woman herself who owns a brewery and makes plenty of money. She’s been taking care of the siblings since their parents died. She feels guilty for what happened to her only daughter because Hetty wanted her to marry into a title. Hetty’s done a few things here and there to save the family from the scandal of the possible murders and made up a story of her daughter killing her son-in-law and committing suicide herself. But no one ultimately knows anything. The siblings, now all grown up, have been called in by Hetty. Hetty wants them all to marry! Her condition: marry within a year, otherwise be disinherited! Needless to say, none of the siblings found it amusing. Minerva and Celia actually were spinsters, if one took a note of their age, 28 and 24 respectively, despite their beauty and so on. The siblings want to know what really happened to their parents, too. It’s been such a long time and been eating them up. They all have their vulnerabilities and guilt swirling around this issue. So they re-open the case and give it to a Bow Street Runner, Jackson Pinter (also appeared 1st in The Heiress series).

Oliver, now Lord Stoneville, then finds his love in an American Heiress, Maria. Whirlwind affair followed and they marry. I was rather disappointed in his story and after his dissolute life as a rake... just wasn’t convinced. Jarett was interested in the family brewery, so when Hetty fell ill for a while, he decided to take care of the brewery himself. In the process, he meets Anne, who also owned a brewery herself. She was desperate because of some troubles with her brewing business and a personal secret to hide. Anyway, the brewing business brought them close and they married later on. His story was also ok, nice but not full of many surprises. Then, it was Minerva’s story. She had been attracted to one of the worst rakes of the lot and Oliver’s good friend Giles (appeared 1st in The Heiresses series), who was a barrister and a spy for the crown. They had some love/hate relationship from early on but it never bloomed because of Giles’s manwhoring ways (you can guess why!). In her book, we learned that this attraction, unwittingly, played a part for both of them not marrying at an advanced age (Giles’s was as same aged as Oliver I think, 36/37 yrs old). But they were brought together by a twist when Minerva, who writes romance novels, is forced to put ads on newspaper for a husband hunt. Of course, Giles wasn’t happy because he’d always wanted Minerva for himself. Finally, he got a way to make her his. I rather liked this one, so far my favorite in the series. But I really wished for some more flashbacks on Minerva and Giles’s more scintillating encounters, with snappy words from Minerva. Without it, I had difficulties assessing their relationship as it was in the story.

Now, this book is Gabe’s. He’s another wild soul of the family with a ‘devil may care’ attitude. He’s not a womanizer like Oliver but Gabe loves horses and horse races. There was an incident 8 yrs ago, a dangerous race that took the life of a good friend, Roger, whom he was racing. Gabe’s been feeling guilty of it ever since and trying to ‘cheat’ death with his ever increasing racing mania. So far, he’d been lucky but his family is worried about him. We get to see the flashback of the night of his parents’ murder from his POV too. Gabe was very young but he did have some important information that he never told anyone before, thinking what’s the use. His parents’ death along with Roger’s has played a vital role in his life. In book #3, he sees Roger’s sister Virginia, who, it’s very apparent that loathes him like no other. Gabe decides that to help out Roger’s family who isn’t financially well-off, he’d marry Virginia. The whole story afterwards revolves around this. Virginia’s Poppy or Grandpa Isaac owns a stud farm and runs races too, so this should be the match made in heaven! If only! Isaac’s stud firm doesn’t bring a lot of money in. Then, it’s entailed to his nephew Pierce, who is now the Lord.

Virginia’s Poppy Isaac also hates Gabe. I was, at first, confused as to who the hell this ‘Poppy’ was! I kept looking for this girl named Poppy because it was clarified a bit later than my liking. This actually bugged me throughout the story. It didn’t help that Isaac was a stubborn fool and a moron. He was very biased and blind-eyed when it came to Gabe’s role in Roger’s death. He made up some story to hide the real one (of which he basically knew nothing about and yes, felt guilty because he said some negative things to Roger before his death) from Virginia and manipulated her to hate Gabe too. He manipulated her and blustered about Gabe throughout the book. Then, in the course of the story, there formed this epic love story between him and Hetty. They flirted, gave each-other eyes and OMG, kissed in one scene. There were rumors that they’d be married soon. Well, I have only one word for this love story: Ewww! WHY Ms. Jeffries? WHY?!

To talk about Gabe and Virginia, none impressed me. Gabe was a reckless fool. I didn’t like his irresponsible way of thinking and thoughtless living. It was too stupid and annoying. I could’ve admired his love for horses and non-rakish character, only if I could respect him a bit. Virginia was no better. I understood her vulnerabilities but I thought her losses in life would make her a responsible person. But nooooo! She craved for the same thing Gabe did; recklessness! As if it’d prove anything! And she races well too (how convenient for the stupid wager they made at first), even better than many men. I.was.bored! Only because it’s a novel, this worked out. Otherwise both of them are supposed to have died in one accident or the other. Call me horrible but every time they thought about how ‘wild’ they wanted to be, I kept rolling my eyes. For the most part of the story, this also annoyed me so it marred my enjoyment. The only part I liked was the last part, where they sort out their differences and for the 1st time spoke of things that didn’t include racing, Roger’s death and horses but something called ‘their genuine feeling for each-other’! I wasn’t convinced as to why Virginia would be so attracted to Gabe in such a short time after years of hating him with a passion. Just ogling Gabe shamelessly who was working in their stables half naked did the trick? I mean hello, weren’t you just hating him and now seeing how ‘fine’ a man he is, you’re suddenly in... what? Lust? SJ kept giving this impression it was purely physical. Maybe it was. But where is the substance in this relationship? I thought they were totally immature in every way. I didn’t care when they jumped into bed as Gabe deemed Virginia is his (possession, that was my impression). It also has something to do with Pierce, Virginia’s cousin, who was ‘used’ to make Gabe jealous. Whatever! He was another annoying and dull character; one of those lordly rakes who didn’t care for fidelity and oblivious of the most important things of life. A cheap rake and a whiner, what could be worse than this? I disliked him so much that if SJ gives him a book (I had the impression she might), I would definitely avoid it.

In the end, when the ‘whys’ of Roger’s death came into the light, I thought that Roger was very conveniently vilified (read: to look like the fool) to save Gabe. I mean the man wasn’t even there to defend himself! I didn’t like it, AT ALL!

In between, their parents’ deaths were still investigated by Pinter. One suspect/alibi turned up dead which worries the siblings. Gabe tells them all about the man he saw in the stables on the night their parents died. Some of the things are solved but its good that I still can’t put a finger on any suspect myself. The next installment would definitely reveal it all. From book #1, we knew Pinter has some ‘itch’ for Celia. Even then I thought this thing between Celia-Pinter is going to be something interesting. The excerpt at the back of the book only whetted my appetite! So I’m going to wait for A Lady Never Surrenders and hope against hope that this one proves to be better than the rest (except, Minerva’s story which I liked). 3.5 stars, simply for the ending because before that, I was considering between 2 and 3 star.

So sorry Ms. Jeffries, I still am your fan since you’re one of those early authors who showed me this wonderful path of Romance with your previous works.

*Update* from SJ’s FB page... from her conversation with some others:

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO, SJ is writing Pierce’s book (the next in whichever series is coming up). I'm gonna jump off the roof and end this misery. *shakes fist in the air*


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