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The Husband Hunt by Lynsay Sands

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Husband Hunt
Madison Sisters #3

Lynsay Sands
Historical Romance
Published in 2012

H/h - Lord Robert Langley/Lisa Madison
Setting: London, in the Regency era (unsure).

Read in Apr, 2012.

My rating:

                                                     [spoiler alert]

I’m a big fan of Lynsay Sands. I’ve read all her HRs/Medieval books, so far I haven’t done any detailed review for them. Even when I read the 1st two books in Madison Sisters series, my reviews weren’t detailed. The Countess and The Heiress were sort of so so book for me but I’ve been eagerly anticipating this one, The Husband Hunt. I enjoyed the first half of the book immensely but not so when I got into the second half. I’ll try to give some background of the first two books and then go for the review.

Please remember that I read the other two books just when they came out in 2011, so some details are a bit blurry at the moment. Sorry if I miss something. So, I initially titled the story of the first two books as ‘Dead or Alive: A Dicky Mystery’. Don’t ask me why though. The Countess and The Heiress were two books taking place almost simultaneously, narrating from the POVs of first two Madison sisters, Christiana and Suzette. You get a lot of repetition in The Heiress since it’s the continuation of the evil suitor mystery but those didn’t really bother me much.

Christiana was married to George, the fake Earl of Radnor, not knowing he’s posing as his twin brother, Richard. While Christiana is the calm one, Suzette is the fiery one among the bunch and Lisa is the sweet younger sister. All three of them inherited big dowry from their maternal grandfather, which is what lured George and so he concocted an evil plan with his 3 cohorts. He has already planned his brother’s death but paid the men to take Richard to America and kill him there. What he didn’t know that Richard’s killers didn’t care what happens to him once he’s in America and so they just left him there, unscathed. Richard somehow communicated with is good friend Daniel, Lord Woodrow a few months ago to return to England. Now, when George was courting Christiana, he was the perfect suitor. And he never consummated his marriage. Poor Christiana didn’t know much about the sexual act (their mother died young I believe and there weren’t other female to help out) and whatever he did with her on their wedding night and told her it’s been consummated, she believed in it. When the story starts, we get to know that George’s real face has come out already. He’s mean and controlling and very thrifty when it comes to Christiana but likes to spend away when it’s about his own need. Apparently, he’s a self-centered arse. Christiana is unhappy but doesn’t speak out. George also told them something about owing money to their father, Lord Madison, who likes to gamble and drink. The sisters could do nothing so far. But somehow good luck shines upon them when George suddenly dies, probably by poisoning. The sisters were all at residence at the moment and freak out. They can’t let this news to go out as it would cause scandal and ruin the chances of marriage for Suzette and Lisa, who were looking for husbands at the moment to bail out their dowry. At least, Suzette was since Lisa was forever in love with a family friend of theirs, Robert, Lord Langley. Robert and the sisters grew up together and he saw all three of them as the sisters he never had. Too bad that Lisa seems to be infatuated with him, a feeling he apparently doesn’t reciprocate at all. Anyway, no point in talking about them now.

So, when George dies, no one knew him as George so they called him Richard. There are these comical scenes on how they hide the body throughout the book, the details of which I didn’t find funny at that time. Kinda made me sick. At night, they attend a ball which could be fruitful in husband hunt. And this is where the read Richard shows up, freaking the sisters to heart attack. None knew that George had a twin. Here, Suzette also meets Daniel; she’s bold in her approach and very pragmatic. Daniel can’t but be amused by this fiery girl and her bold approach appeals to him. Suzette proposed him actually, when she learns that Daniel has financial problems. While these two are at it, Christiana is trying to figure out what’s to be done about this situation. The sisters plan and upon returning home, they find dear ‘Richard’ where they left him, in his room packed with ice. Soon of course, things start to unravel, along with many amusing scenes. I enjoyed those a lot, though I was languishing with the plot of the story. The ‘real’ Richard and Christiana fall for each-other very soon, I mean REALLY soon and they consummate the marriage, even though they aren’t actually married. *winkwink* They learn about the suitor deal somehow and all of George’s evil deeds. I couldn’t blame Richard and the others later on when they ‘got rid of’ his body and thought good riddance. The man was a jerk! Christiana and Richard marry again of course, with a plan to keep this whole mess a secret. FYI: Robert was also part of the story as he helps out the sisters in all these, giving us a glimpse of Lisa’s infatuation with him.

Suzette and Daniel was already involved when The Countess finished, so we get to see some repetition from their side in The Heiress. I really liked their chemistry. I appreciated that Daniel and Richard, none of them were womanizers and fell for their heroines instantly. Liked both Daniel and Suzette as characters. In her story, it was pretty sure that Suzette was after Daniel and she’ll have him by hook or by crook, or some such thing. She was nothing if not practical. Daniel liked her enough but marriage wasn’t the first thing in his mind. They keep dancing around this but Daniel, like Richard, comes off as possessive so even though he wasn’t thinking of marrying, he didn’t like other men sniffing about Suzette. Along the story, all of them leave for some country side; I’m not sure if it was a house party or Richard’s estate though. Here, they gave into their passions, knowing that they feel something deeper for each-other. I seem to remember it was a hot hot scene in the haystack. *heehee* Someone obviously was following them and knew what they’ve done and didn’t want them to be together. Daniel asks Suzette to marry him and then leaves to fetch his mother for the ceremony. Daniel doesn’t return that night as per the plan but Suzette didn’t know that he was badly injured on the way in gunfire. Someone tried to kill him but somehow he made it to his home. In the meantime, Suzette happiness turns into nightmare when a humiliating open letter came to her, which apparently every freakin’ individual there read, with Daniel’s name on it. It was a horrible letter, to say the least, calling her ‘whore’ and so on and that Daniel was just having a bit of fun and marriage would never occur between them etc. I hated it and felt so bad for Suzette. She was a strong character but this makes her cry her heart out. Robert and Richard can’t believe it and they go to Daniel’s estate to take care of the matter in a manly way. Then of course, the truth was revealed. They understood it was done by someone who didn’t want Suzette to marry Daniel so it probably was one of the remaining two from the suitor deal. In the end, he was found and guy, as far as I can remember, was one of the man courting Suzette and initially a nice guy.

Now, The Husband Hunt takes place about 2 yrs after the 1st two books. Lisa is still pining away for Robert. Both the couples of the previous stories are happy in their marriage. Lisa has been living in the Madison country estate last two years with her father, though I don’t know why. This time, she’s determined to do something as time’s running out. Either Robert would see that she’s NOT the sweet little sisterly girl anymore but a grown woman or she’ll have to look elsewhere. As she comes home, Lisa is invited by a woman of dubious reputation to have tea with her. I can’t seem to remember her from the other two books but she was there as a minor character. The naïve Lisa thought she was her friend, who gave her naughty books and furthered her education in all things bed-play. Lisa decides to attend the tea but her ladies maid, Bet, accosts her. She won’t let her mistress go out alone like this. So, even though vaguely annoyed, Lisa takes Bet with her and rides that woman’s carriage to her house. Upon arrival, it was becomes very sure that the woman’s intentions were as dubious as her reputation. She drugs them both and makes Lisa prepare herself for her ‘suitor’. Lisa doesn’t really get it but while waiting, she becomes a little conscious. She helps Bet escape with a message for Robert, to come and rescue her. Bet climbs down the window and runs to Robert.

In the meantime, we see that Robert is a moron. Yah, he doesn’t believe in marriage since apparently there is a ‘curse’ that Langley men are always saddled with unfaithful wives. His mother was unfaithful, so was his grandmother or that’s what was drummed into his head by his cold and bitter father. Robert is so scared of marriage, he won’t even consider it a possibility. He thinks that his life is ok, and he can always visit his mistress when it’s necessary. Richard and Daniel keep mocking him, poking fun at him but Robert tries to wave those away. Even then, he doesn’t like men looking at Lisa. Of course Lisa is like a little sister and he’d always enjoyed her attentions but that was all. He can’t certainly marry Lisa because sooner or later, she’d cuckold him. God, made my wanna break something on his thick head, Robert did! But that’s where the fun was initially. When things are like this, Bet goes to Robert’s townhouse and informs him about Lisa’s current predicament. He at first, doesn’t believe the maid but when he hears of the name of the woman, he recognized her as the madame of a certain brother he used to frequent. Robert jumps to rescue Lisa. That scene was really funny, the words and everything else; a woozy Lisa and Robert with an erection, seeing Lisa in a see through gown the madame made her wear. Lisa didn’t mind or wasn’t in the state of mind to mind! Lol One thing comes out of this mess though; Robert now knows that Lisa isn’t the little sisterly girl he always thought she was. *grins*

After the rescue, Robert went to discuss the whole thing to Richard and Daniel. You’d find that the whole family, as usual, is by each-other’s side and they know things about the others. It should’ve made me pissy but somehow, LS’s writing is such that I found it funny and kinda comforting. So, as Robert relates Lisa’s story to them, Richard and Daniel have their own plans that might give Robert the push he needs to see Lisa differently. I didn’t think their intentions were illogical because later it’s very much proven that these two ware pretty close as youngsters and just obvious in love with each-other. When Robert is planning how to keep Lisa safe since upon inquiring, he has found that the madame has fled and the identity of the suitor is still unknown, Richard and Daniel tells him some clap-trap about Christiana’s frail pregnancy and that the sisters can’t know about this. Also, Bow Street Runners can’t be hired since that would give it away. And like this, they manages to manipulate Robert to stay at Richard’s house, where Lisa is staying for the season (I think Suzette and Daniel were also staying there. Great, see what I mean by the family thing?), to guard her. He can make something up to Christiana and Suzette about his stay. Robert would never compromise anything where Lisa is concerned, so he gives in. Only the thick head didn’t still know how much in love he was with her.

Lisa, on the other hand, didn’t want Robert anywhere near her. She has already made her feelings known once again and was spurned by the moron. Now she’s determined to find a husband. And off starts her campaign with Robert not liking this whole husband hunt thing at all. Lisa finds some good matches courting her. She is inclined to three of them, among them Findley tops the list. She likes him. And they form this good companionship over the weeks, courting in balls and outings. Lisa knew Findley for a very short time two years ago when she was last in London (her sisters’ stories but I don’t really remember him from there), when he danced with her in some balls. Findley tells her that he finds her very beautiful and always wanted to be closely acquainted.  Lisa is very flattered by the handsome lord’s attentions. I also liked Findley quite a bit and when Robert was being a moron, I was really interested in Findley and Lisa’s relationship. It was also much fun to watch Robert get riled up every time Lisa would go out with one of her suitors, or they would come to pay her a visit. He would try to be stern with Lisa, reminding her about her safety and once or twice he’d be there whenever she’s out with Findley and he was trying to kiss her, in the name of her ‘safety’. It was just too funny! Robert would think he’d soon visit his mistress and take off the edge, but thanks heavens that he never went to the woman, ever. Lisa just left no options open for him. Lol So, Robert tried many reasoning to explain his growing attraction to Lisa. When things between her and Findley, apparently, grows closer, Lisa once announces to him that she doesn’t see him as anything but an elder brother. She also thanks Robert for opening up her eyes. It was just hilarious, how this announcement didn’t sit well with Robert, at all! He was used to with her attentions FGS and always basked in it, no matter what he showed outwardly. Oh the poor fool!

I was having great fun so far. There are attacks on Lisa’s life once or twice in the course of the story, which Robert, who was like her shadow everywhere, takes care of. These incidents enhances Lisa’s hero-worship-thing for Robert. I was kinda interested in Findley so I was impatient to know what happens and was scared that this nice guy would end up badly hurt, a thought didn’t appeal to me much. I don’t like perfectly nice secondary characters getting hurt in a story. But oh, how gigantically wrong I was! Soon, after the 2nd attempt on their lives, which also leaves Robert badly wounded, Suzette and Christiana find out about Richard and Daniel’s plans. And then, they all plan something I found tremendously not smart. They all (most of them anyway) encourage Lisa to seduce Robert. They can find them together and he would have to marry her. Gotta tell you, this incident took away a lot of the fun because I was hoping for something interesting. It seemed so clichéd! Although Lisa ‘takes care’ of this matter, inside she knows she doesn’t want to have Robert this way. Then there’s the matter of him thinking she’d someday cheat on him. Others don’t ‘find’ them together, which baffles them. Afterwards Robert keeps proposing Lisa to do the right thing but she keeps denying him. This also doesn’t sit well with Robert! One day, Robert has this talk with Richard, which changes his POV about the whole adultery thing in his family.

In the meantime, a runner was investigating the matter for Robert. The suitor was still at large. Lisa and Robert give into their passions more than once, with Lisa feeling confused about the whole matter. Soon, new twists are in and Lisa is kidnapped. Robert gets the runner’s report in time to know who the suitor is. I won’t reveal his name, only that he was the third man in league with George. Now, I’d like to mention something that bugged me while I finished the book. When Lisa was rescued and we get to learn about the suitor’s sexual proclivities, from the description it felt like he was into BDSM. But he liked to hurt his ‘toys’ intentionally. He was also evil in the sense that he kidnapped unsuspecting women to make them his ‘play toy’ (though I had a tough time believing this. Why? You just have to read the book) but I couldn’t help feeling that this lifestyle was demeaned through the narratives. Well, I have nothing for or against BDSM but I’ve read BDSM erotica and while some stuff disturbs me, I don’t necessarily think it’s ‘evil’. There are rules and such. I could see the points why the villain was tagged as an evil person; still, the whole situation bothered me. But this is totally my opinion.

Anyway, it could’ve been an amazing fun read. It had the potentials but sadly, didn’t live up to my expectations. Overall, I do think the series was wrapped up pretty nicely. Funny thing is, I wanted to see books for Lisa’s suitors. I’d love to read about them!

3.5 stars.

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I love to read in my spare time and do reviews the books I read. My blog Punya Reviews just turned 6 in 2017 and still going strong. I love music and traveling. Sometimes, I wish I could live inside a book, having my own HEA. :)
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