Sunday, September 16, 2007
A Perfect 10: TRULY YOURS by Barbara Metzger
TRULY YOURS - Barbara Metzger
A Perfect 10
Is it a gift or a curse? Most likely a bit of both, but these days Jordan, Viscount Rexford leans heavily toward curse. Every male for untold generations has been blessed/cursed with the ability to tell truth from lies. It's a dangerous gift in either case; one ancestor was hung for wizardry. Most Royces have served their country well in positions where such truth-seeing is valuable. Rex's father, Lord Royce, was a prominent judge until a vindictive enemy brought him down with accusations of bias and bribery when the earl let go a prisoner he knew was innocent.
The truth makes itself known to male Royces in various ways. Lord Royce hears clear notes or clankers; Rex sees colors: blue for truth, red for lies, and other colors for anything in between. Oddly, Rex's very large cousin Daniel inherited the ability through his mother, Lord Royce's sister. Unfortunately, Daniel's gift manifests itself by making him itch in various parts. You can imagine how scratching his nether part at Almack's endeared himself to Society.
Rex and Daniel, closer than brothers their whole lives, went off to war to help their country. They ended up working for Lord Wellesley (later Wellington) interrogating prisoners and otherwise gathering intelligence. So successful were they, that their fellow officers, other than certain superiors, were sure they must use the most vicious torture. Their fearful reputation spread and they became known as The Inquisitors. Blessing or curse?
Rex and Daniel are now home from Spain; Rex, with a scarred face and wounded leg, indulges in solitary brooding at the family estate; Daniel carouses about London.
Miss Amanda Carville is desperate to escape her step-father who has stolen her dowry and inheritance and is now refusing her suitors. She's only allowed to attend social affairs to chaperone her step-sister. The night she attends Almack's and learns her step-father is now spreading tales about her to make her unmarriageable, she claims a headache and goes home early, only to find her step-father murdered. She, herself, is found standing over him with the gun she foolishly has in hand. Before she knows it, she's dragged off to goal and thrown into unspeakable conditions. There is no one she can ask for help, except, possibly, her godmother who is out of town...
Rex cannot refuse a request from his beloved father, even if it comes through him from the mother who left them many years ago. Using his dangerous reputation, a lordly manner, and bribes, Rex carries a sick and fragile Amanda away from Newgate, just in the nick of time to save both her virtue and her life. There's nowhere to take her but Royce House, empty but for a skeleton staff while his mother is in Bath. Though this leads to highly compromising situations, Rex won't be trapped. He will never marry, never pass on the truth-seeing curse to an innocent child. Although...Amanda's delicate beauty, discernable even through the prison filth, arouses tender feelings of protectiveness such as he's never felt before.
Life has wounded Rex internally as well as bodily, but the scar and the limp in no way detract from his handsomeness in Amanda's eyes. And as she has only a few days before she hangs for murder...
Impossibly, Barbara Metzger keeps getting better and better and TRULY YOURS sets a new standard. With a loving scene between father and young son in the prologue, get ready for a story that will both pull your heartstrings and tickle your funny bone. The truth-seeing gift is one that exercises our imaginations. Just think of being married to someone who sees through our tiniest of fibs. Or empathize with Rex as he sees smiling faces telling falsehoods all around him. Is there anyone in the world he can trust outside of his father and cousin?
Given a pile of anonymous manuscripts to read, Metzger fans could readily put a name to hers; they'd recognize her distinctive style in the delicious wit, deft characterization and masterly word-smithing. Add original plotting (and a second thread of suspense when the mysterious man of power known as the Aide gives Rex an intelligence gathering assignment), to a highly worthy hero, a forthright heroine, and a lovably amusing sidekick, and TRULY YOURS merits a Romance Reviews Today Perfect 10 designation. Most gladly given.