Monday, March 21, 2016

#TBRChallenge Reading: The Lady Hellion by Joanna Shupe

2016 TBR Reading Challenge
Book: The Lady Hellion
Author: Joanna Shupe
My Categories: Romance, Regency
Wendy Crutcher's Category: Recommended Read

This book was recommended by Sarah MacLean in her Best Books of 2015 in WaPo.

The meet cute is very cute. Lady Sophia saunters into Lord Quint's life after months of separation to ask him to act as her second in a duel. Quint naturally is flabbergasted.

And this is how Quint becomes embroiled in Sophie's quest to find justice for women whose bodies were washing up on the shores of the Thames with missing right hands. They were all women of the night for whom no one cared to find justice. Sophie goes from clue to clue dressed as Sir Stephen, entering gaming hells and brothels. Her questions endanger her again and again. She gets stabbed once; she's threatened with gang rape once. And yet Sophie continued undaunted.

Unbeknownst to Quint, Sophie had saved his life many months ago as he lay dying from an infected stab wound. He recovered, but as a result of that stabbing, he becomes housebound with post-traumatic stress disorder and agoraphobia. He despises himself at his, what he terms, "cowardice," because he was unable to help or protect Sophie. He believes that like his father, he is slowly going mad. That is why he refuses to marry Sophie, even when they become intimately involved.

Sophie helps him to slowly overcome his agoraphobia. In the end, when Sophie is taken by the killer, Quint comes through with the help of his friends. What I really liked about this long scene is that Quint doesn't magically get over his diseases and become the alpha hero that's usually the norm for such situations. He has his issues; he knows his limits; and he leans on his friends to help him. And together as a team, they rescue Sophie and dispatche off the villain.

Quint doesn't fully recover at the end of the book, far from it. However, Quint is willing to risk his health for the love of his life, and both Quint and Sophie are committed to helping him recover little by little.

One quibble I had with the book was that once Quint and Sophie have sex for the first time, the pacing of the book became uneven. The main storyline ground to a halt as page real estate was devoted to love scenes and they followed one after the other for a bit with the story not making much forward progress. Once those were out of the way, the story picked up again.

Overall, it was an unusual storyline that was well-told.