The Lady Risks All by Stephanie Laurens
Title: The Lady Risks AllClassification: Adult FictionGenre: Historical RomanceFormat: Paperback, 496 pagesPublisher: Avon; Original edition (September 25, 2012)ISBN-10: 0062068636ISBN-13: 978-0062068637Author's Website: http://www.stephanielaurens.com/
Gambling. It is a game of chance, luck, skill, and risk. For a small percentage of the populous the game becomes addictive, an obsession they cannot resist. The stakes are high and the games have been the ruin of many a man and family. It was also a known danger or curse, as the family looked upon it, for the men of the Delbraith family. One that seemed to have a habit of taking hold of just about every male member. But what surprised most of the family twelve years ago, was that the man with ironically the better poker face, the man who had more to lose and had been groomed to be the more responsible of the two Delbraith brothers was the one who had succumbed to the obsession and lost it all. No one had had a clue until the day he took a pistol to his head and let loose a tidal wave of chaos. He could no longer hide nor live with the choices he had made and had taken the coward's way out.
Besides the gambling curse it was also known that once every few generations or so the family would birth a son with more than enough luck or skill that even if the curse took hold they would somehow always manage to come out of the games on the plus side. Perhaps they were born under a lucky star, or it was fates way of keeping balance and order in the world. And so Twelve years ago, in an effort to save the family, Julian decided to risk it all and has never taken a look back. For on that day, Lord Julian Roscoe Neville Delbraiths ceased to exist and Neville Roscoe was born.
Miranda Clifford knew all about family curses. It was known in her family that those who strayed from the straight and narrow would meet with disaster and/or death. So she'd lived her life accordingly, and when she thought her brother, Roderick, might be straying into dark territories she followed him one night to see what kind of trouble he might be getting into. What she never expected was to follow him right into the dwelling of Neville Roscoe, "the most celebrated--as in infamous and notorious--denizen of the neighborhood. He was London's acknowledged gambling king, the owner of a vast array of hells, dens, and clubs catering to the wealthy, the affluent, the aristocratic."
Miranda is about to learn that just like you can't judge a book by its cover, neither can you always judge a person by their persona.
This was such a delightful tale that had me swooning over the the hero. Roscoe was first introduced by Ms. Laurens in her novel The Edge of Desire (Bastion Club, #7) then again in The Reckless Bride ( Black Cobra Quartet, #4) . So if you haven't read the two series you may wish to do so now. I always love it when an author ties their books together via a character mentioned in another.
Roscoe is like two people spliced into one. His Roscoe persona is one of a dangerous man who you don't cross if you want to live, but his Julian persona, which is his true self, is much different from his alter ego. With all his wealth and involvement in London's darker and seedier side, you'd think he would have succumbed to his own vices and be tainted by it all. Yet he never strayed far from his aristocratic roots and upbringing. As you can probably surmise from my synopsis, Julian created his alter ego as a way to support his family and get them out of ruin. To do so, however, he had to separate himself from them so they wouldn't be tainted through association.
Roscoe is sort of a sheep in wolf's clothing. Upon becoming a rich and notorious gambling king, Roscoe decided to lend a helping hand to those who would not otherwise have the opportunity to better themselves or their situations. He doesn't just hand out money to the poor and less fortunate, he makes sure the money is used to teach skills so they may better themselves. It's a bit of the "If you give a man a fish you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish you feed him for a lifetime." type of philosophy. He does all this in secret and only a chosen few know. Ms. Laurens described Roscoe in an interview she did with USA Today as an inverted Batman. To see the whole article CLICK HERE.
Miranda is in some ways is very like Roscoe. They share a common loyalty toward family and feel responsible for them. When her brother doesn't come home after a late night meeting with Roscoe, Miranda seeks out his help in finding him.Curse or no curse, Miranda throws caution to the wind and does what no proper lady would do--she accompanies Roscoe as they follow the trail to find her brother and that is when the real fun begins. While their first encounter sparked an awareness of the other, it's not until later, while on the path to finding Miranda's kidnapped brother, that the two realize those first sparks have ignited something more heated between them.
Overall, I adored this book and gave it 5 out of 5 roses. I loved the character Ms. Laurens created in Roscoe. I thought he was refreshingly unique from the other heroes I've read in historical romance novels. I loved how Miranda at one point has to take the reigns of the relationship into her own hands and the way the two worked together to figure out the who, what, and where of her brother's kidnapping. I also enjoyed how the two had to figure out how to redefine their relationship once back within the bounds of London society. On the Lisarenee romance rating scale, this one gets a FAN rating--the temperature in the room seems to have suddenly gone up a couple of degrees and a fan would be nice.