Wednesday, April 01, 2009

A Perfect 10: THE WICKED WAYS OF A TRUE HERO by Barbara Metzger

A Perfect 10
Signet Eclipse
ISBN: 978-451-22634-1
March 2009
Historical Romance

Regency London, Post Waterloo

Mr. Daniel Stamfield descends from the Royce line through his mother, Lady Cora. The blue Royce blood carries the talent (or the curse, as it sometimes seems) of the male members being able to discern truth from lies. Daniel's uncle, the Earl of Royce, for instance, hears music when a truth is told and clinkers when lied to. The earl's heir, Viscount Rexford, sees colors; while his half brother, the earl's natural son, experiences good or bad tastes according to the level of veracity he hears. For Daniel, his talent can be downright embarrassing; he breaks out in itchy rashes when lies are told. Imagine poor Daniel at a social gathering where lies are told all around him...he was asked to leave Almack's for scratching his arse.

Very few people are aware of the Royce trait -- memories of witch trials have hardly had time to fade -- but the talent has proved valuable to the government in several ways. During the late wars against the French, Daniel and Rexford were dubbed "The Inquisitors" for their success in interrogating prisoners. Unfortunately, the world was let to believe they resorted to torture rather than have their abilities be exposed. But now the war is behind them, and Daniel wants to forget. Not for him serving king and country as his relatives do; his time is better spent on wine, women, and carousing in general. But then he receives word from his mother that she is bringing his sister Susanna to Town for the Season, and Daniel is required to serve as their escort. Horrors! But what is a loving son and brother to do but buck up and mend his ways...if he can't talk them out of it.

If that were not the worst of it, Lady Cora is bringing her goddaughter along, Miss Corinda Abbott. Daniel and Cori met once three years ago when he helped her father track her down after she ran off with a soldier. They found her in a compromising situation. Though they were in time to prevent the taking of Cori's virtue, Daniel believes otherwise and thinks the worst of her. Cori has no love for Daniel, either. Her father kept her a virtual prisoner until he could sell her in marriage to the highest bidder, a disease-ridden old man; now he treats her even more badly. Luckily, Lady Cora is a force to be reckoned with and shames Cori's father into allowing her to accompany the Stamfield ladies to London. All she wanted before was to escape her father and the match he had made. Dare she hope she can now find a good man to marry? A man and maybe a small house with a garden and children to play in it?

If you are suffering with the late winter blues, I have the perfect cure...THE WICKED WAYS OF A TRUE HERO. The novel is a rollicking one with a terrific plot line, likable...nay, lovable, characters, and a unique literary voice. I purely love the way Barbara Metzger uses the language to such good effect. Each chapter ends with a chuckle, a laugh out loud moment, or a hook that compels one to turn the page no matter the midnight hour. The dialogue is clever or meaningful as needed, the exposition unmatched. (Can you tell I'm a rabid Metzger fan?) Daniel's attempts to dress and act the gentlemen are most amusing; an early scene between him and his mother's officious butler is a case where he doesn't quite succeed. Watch for it. Besides the humor, however, there are deep feelings involved in what follows.

The stories featuring the Royce family began with Cousin Rex's in September 2007 with TRULY YOURS, and then went on to tell the tale of the earl's illegitimate son, Harry Harmon, in THE SCANDALOUS LIFE OF A TRUE LADY last June. If you've missed either one, I strongly recommend you put them on your list along with THE WICKED WAYS OF A TRUE HERO. It's a terrific series.

Do you suppose one or two more stories could be squeezed out of the family? Pretty please? An undiscovered relative perhaps? Or how about one of the ladies? Didn't we see hints of the talent in Lady Cora and young Susanna...

Jane Bowers


Laurie G said...

I can't believe that I've totally missed this author! I love historicals! Great review!

penney said...

What a hot cover I love it, I am going to order that book, thanks,