I adore stories set in the wilds of Scotland. Even more so when a reclusive and socially challenged lord takes on a forthright and personable belle of the season. This premise hooked me into The Legendary Lord by Valerie Bowman, and I had high expectations going into this book. Unfortunately, it left me feeling a little bittersweet.
Lady Sarah Highgate escapes from London, having no desire to marry the man her parents chose for her. She seeks shelter in Master Christian’s hunting lodge, having no idea that the owner is Viscount Berkeley, nor that the man would find her in his bedchamber!
As their truths unfold, a bargain is struck. Sarah will help Christian find a wife, and Christian will help Sarah get back to London and salvage her reputation. However, as Sarah teaches Christian the art of attracting a wife, she finds herself on the hook instead. Each must confront their fears as London society – and others’ expectations – threatens to tear them apart.
This story starts with a bang. Christian believes Sarah is a thief, and Sarah believes Christian to be a murderer. Their reactions to finding each other in the secluded residence were hilarious! For Christian, it’s shock and disgruntlement. He had left London to hide from society women only to find that…
“By God, there was a woman in his bed!”
And Sarah? She brandishes a sword she can barely lift, threatening to “cut (him) in half.”
Now, if the story had continued in such a vein, with quips and action and them brandishing swords – if not literal swords, than figurative ones – I would have loved this book. As it was, however, their interactions were lackluster.
They find themselves alone, snowed in, and with lust-at-first sight. It is a prime opportunity to build the tension; however, there were missed opportunities. The first morning after, Sarah finds herself facing Christian with only her nightgown on. But Christian? He shows no reaction to finding her barely clothed.
None. Not even later in his thoughts.
I had to ask myself, so what is the purpose of this?
Not only that, but the Sarah who brandishes a sword in the beginning disappears, and she spends much of the book running or simply kowtowing to her parents, and why? No reason presents itself. Deeper reason were hinted at, especially in Christian’s case, but never delved into or shared with the other. It leaves me unsatisfied.
After the first third of the book, however, the plot picks up, and I loved seeing them both bit by the jealousy bug and confronting their feelings.
What really propelled the plot for me were the secondary characters. I loved them! We are reintroduced to Lucy Hunt (For those of you not familiar with her, I strongly encourage you to read The Unexpected Duchess) and her merry band of scheme makers. It offers the witty repartee I’m used to seeing in this series, and seeing Christian interact with his rabblerousing friends gave him a little more depth.
While I didn’t see the shy bachelor in Christian, by the end, I was okay with that. What were these society ladies thinking in overlooking Berkeley all this time? Well, their loss is Sarah’s gain! With him, Sarah’s backbone came out full force, and the intimate scenes were steamy enough to make up for the lack of tension earlier.
The Legendary Lord is a fun, light romp that does the Playful Brides series justice. While it missed the mark on enhancing the tension in some parts – ones that would have made this story more poignant – I will continue to devotedly follow this series. A future couple is hinted at, and I just know the next book will offer the emotional-punch that Bowman can deliver.
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*I was given an arc by NetGalley for an honest review.*