Review: The Lady Risks All by Stephanie Laurens
Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: “This wasn’t some passing connection. This power and glory wasn’t something that would fade and die- “
Neville Roscoe is the notorious, scandalous owner of several gambling dens. A private man, he exists on the fringes of society and is given wide berth by everyone. We learn early on that Neville is really Lord Julian Delbraith and his decline into society’s more dark ventures is forced by family circumstances. He chooses to sacrifice himself in order to save his family from ruin. This has caused Neville to isolate himself, not only from his family, but from society in general. While not a heartless man, he is aloof and removed, in order to not only protect his family, but also himself. It’s only when he meets Miranda Clifford does his protective instincts come roaring forefront and he begins to wish that things were different.
Lady Miranda Clifford is locked in the rigid confines of society, made to pay for her mother’s fall from grace by her two spinster aunts. Her aunts have quashed almost all of her independence and spirit and Miranda has spent a majority of her life raising her younger brother and looking to making a respectable marriage. When her brother Roderick begins to buck against her yoke, Miranda knows it’s time to let him go but she finds herself following him one night to see what he is up to. He leads her to one of Neville’s gambling dens and she sneaks in to spy on her brother. Neville catches her and instead of ejecting her, he allows her to hide and see her what her brother is doing. Miranda appeals to Neville for help when a series of attacks befall her brother and before he knows it, Neville finds himself opening up to a woman who for all intents and purposes would be shunned should their association be discovered.
As their attraction to one another grows, Miranda makes a daring proposition and Neville, caught between his honor and passion for Miranda, agrees. Soon their affair blossoms into a love so deep and commanding, Neville fears that only death will release them.
The Lady Risks All is the story of Neville Roscoe who was seen in both The Edge Of Desire and The Reckless Bride. I would like to point out this is a stand alone and you do not have to read the others in order to appreciate this story. I found myself instantly smitten by the hero and heroine in here. Neville, an alpha with a dark commanding presence, is complex in his ability to disregard society so completely but falls back upon age old honor when dealing with Miranda. Miranda seems very uptight, wrapped in her respectability and need for rules, in the beginning yet you see a spark of spirit that grows brighter and stronger each time she is with Neville. Their romance begins slowly; our hero and heroine fighting against the chemistry that blazes as soon as they meet. We are privy to their every thought which makes for interesting insight into this particular era.
I liked watching Miranda grow, not only in her sexuality but as a person. With Neville at her side, she is able to accomplish anything. Neville’s past is tragic and he has kept his feelings buried for so long. Miranda helps to break down his walls and watching him acknowledge his love for her, to himself, is emotionally gratifying. His constant struggle between what he wants and what he feels he should do is a never ending battle that extends through much of the story. The physical scenes are very passionate, emotional wise, though Ms. Laurens seems to spend an inordinate amount of time examining each and every detail through lyrical prose until you find yourself skimming pages to get to the actual scene.
The secondary characters are all well developed and add to the depth and emotional evolution of the story. The merging of their lives stays constant through the entire story and Ms. Laurens does well in slowly revealing their back stories and reasons in order to allow us better understanding of our protagonists. I enjoyed seeing some old faces that I fell in love with from previous books. Rafe Carstairs -The Reckless Bride -YUM! There is a sweet small secondary romance that reveals itself gently. The ending comes at you fast and wraps up the storyline and subsequent sub plots in a clear and concise manner that answers all our questions and concerns. There is even a sweet epilogue (and you all know how much I love epilogues) that leave us secure in Miranda’s and Neville’s future.
My main problem with this romance is the length. Ms. Laurens could have easily cut out about 200 pages of overused prose, descriptive details, and repetitive scenes that bog the story down drastically. I honestly felt that the prologue was one of the best written sections of the book and wished Laurens could have continued the entire story in that fashion. I enjoyed The Lady Risks All, as it has a very old school feel to it that reminds me of why I fell in love with historical romances in the first place, but I will admit the filler you have to wade through to get to the HEA is daunting and I found myself challenged to finish on more than one occasion.
Overall Rating: C+