Reckless (The House of Rohan #2)

RecklessBy Anne Stuart

Publisher: Mira
Publication Date: September 1, 2010
Genre: Historical Romance
Source: Publisher

Adrian Alistair Rohan lost his faith, and now, a dedicated member of the depraved Heavenly Host, he loses himself in his only pleasure: the seduction and debauchery of beautiful women. Rich, charming and devastatingly skilled in the arts of love, he never fails in his conquests… until Charlotte Spenser.

Charlotte is facing a desolate, passionless future, none of which matters to Adrian, who imagines her a toy until better prey arrives. But beneath her drab exterior, Charlotte is a woman as enchanting as she is brilliant and, lured into Adrian’s world, soon she becomes the seducer, and he the seduced…

Goodreads Summary

Reckless is book two in Stuart’s House of Rohan series; now we get the story of Francis and Elinor’s son Adrian, who frankly is a massive wanker.

Adrian, despite warnings from both of his parents, has fallen under the spell of his uncle Etienne (whom Rohan has originally tried to foist Elinor off on in Ruthless), who’s pathologically jealous of the Rohan family’s claim to both of their English and French titles.  Etienne has encouraged Adrian’s descent into depths of debauchery even his father hadn’t hit, including using opium, in the hopes that he’ll manage to off him before he can produce an heir, leaving Etienne to inherit it all.

Charlotte has been invited to live with wealthy widowed cousin Lina, who has some ulterior motives; having experienced an awful, abusive marriage, she’s decided that Charlotte is going to see men at their lowest, most particularly Adrian (whom she’s had a crush on), so she’ll never, ever want to marry and simply be alone for the rest of her life like Lina.  Of course, they’re heading off to the Heavenly Host, the no-holds barred sexual free-for-all held at the Rohan estate that Adrian was now heading.  Lina arranges a costume that she thinks will ensure Charlotte’s safe passage through the party so that she can watch but not have anyone approach her, but of course she bumbles into the one area where her costume doesn’t matter and of course it’s Adrian who finds her.

Adrian didn’t have much to redeem himself before in the story; he was rude to Charlotte on the few occasions she came across him and was ridiculously arrogant and smug for a 28-yr. old.  He knew Charlotte had a crush on him and he took a sort of perverse delight in taunting her with it.  But where his father was intrigued by Elinor and chose to engage in word games with her as a form of sexual foreplay, for Adrian, each time he can arrange the opportunity to have sex with Charlotte, her “no,” means “maybe.”  Always.  Well, except for the time her “no” means “yes.”  He plays on her crush on him and uses the forced consent trope.  She just can’t help herself and he really doesn’t care about her feelings; the back blurb says that she becomes the seducer, which is funny because at no point does she.  There’s a fairly big ick factor that may not have been as big if Adrian hadn’t been so smug or if he’d considered once or twice that Charlotte was more than a conquest.

There’s a secondary story between Lina and a friend of a friend of Adrian’s that takes up half of the book and was really nothing but filler.  It was so dull it nearly made this book a wallbanger, as if Adrian’s personality wasn’t bad enough.  Lina is so dead-set against marriage or any kind of romantic relationship that she’s beyond shrew material and attacks poor Simon no matter what he says in any context.  It didn’t help that he’s a pastor who knows she’s been a little bit free with her affections and he gets off on the wrong foot by being fairly judgmental of her, but my god, she didn’t let up, ever.

I enjoyed Ruthless, which was rumored to be dark, so I wandered into Reckless thinking it wouldn’t be too bad.  I did not expect someone like Adrian.  He’s obviously the main problem I had with the book, followed only shortly behind by the useless secondary story that took up so much room I have to wonder if Stuart just didn’t have enough of Adrian and Charlotte to fill the book and threw Lina and Simon in there, because their story has almost no purpose.  Charlotte is a decent enough character, but she didn’t really stand out one way or another, since it seemed she was always giving in to Adrian or mooning about him.  The one thing the book did have going for it was Stuart’s writing.  Even if the material leaves something to be desired, she manages to write about it brilliantly; her characters are certainly larger-than-life and the dialogue is engaging and interesting.

Much like Ruthless, Reckless manages to wring out a winner ending (although Ruthless won me over a lot sooner) and that’s the only reason this got saved from a lower rating.  Adrian ended up being a likable sort of redeemed ex-loser (or wanker), Charlotte dug around and located her spine and Simon finally found a way to silence Lina.  And they all lived happily ever after and my wall didn’t get dented.

My Rating: C+

Barbara

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