I recently started reading Seduction Wears Sapphires by Renee Bernard, the second book in the Jaded Gentleman series. I read the first book, Revenge Wears Rubies, a few months back, and I enjoyed it more than I expected to. Because that one surprised me, I’ve been looking forward to this one.
Revenge Wears Rubies introduced a group of young Victorian British men who shared a harrowing experience in India and have stayed close since their return to London. The first book focused on Galen, one member of that group, finding love in a very unexpected place. This second book in the series shifts to Ashe, another member of the group, who was set up as kind of a wild womanizer in the first book.
As we get to know Ashe in this book it’s clear that he has more hidden depths than expected. He is living a wild life, but also values his family duties very highly and clearly has some of the same kinds of emotional damage that Galen had to work through. But because he has been hiding these more serious levels of his personality, his grandfather (the pater familias of his family) has become frustrated with him and challenges him to visibly change his ways for fear of losing his inheritance.
One of the conditions for this challenge is that he has to take a chaperone with him to the London Season, a young American woman his grandfather has chosen for the purpose. I’m assuming that this woman, Caroline, will be Ashe’s romantic interest and so far she is proving interesting. She’s a woman who has focused on academic knowledge instead of the kinds of feminine accomplishments a wealthy Victorian woman would have cultivated. I’m not even sure if she can dance, but she can certainly discuss philosophy and literature and history and mathematics with grace and poise. This makes her, of course, not at all the kind of woman that Ashe is normally attracted to. My hope is that she will manage to retain some of this bookishness and not simply become a “librarian taking out her bun and becoming the belle of the ball” cliche.
The story is definitely set up from the outset to be Victorian comedy of errors kind of story, but since the two protagonists are being forced to basically spend all of their time together for the Season, I am not surprised that we will somehow here see their romance bloom (and probably them fight that happening for a while).
I was not looking forward to Ashe’s story out of the group of men and was a little disappointed when it became clear at the beginning of the book that this one was his, but now that I am a little ways into it, I am intrigued. The story is light and flies along, as my favorite romances do, so I’m quite enjoying it so far and looking forward to delving further into Ashe and Caroline’s story!