As I said last week, I’ve always equated romantic suspense with contemporary novels. But after reading Mary Jo Putney’s historical romance, Nowhere Near Respectable , I realized that I had to revise my thinking; that I had indeed read romantic suspense novels that didn’t involve Navy SEALS, special Ops, U.S. Marshalls, high tech gadgets, nuclear bombs, or high speed car chases. In fact I’ve read quite a few historicals that were indeed romantic suspense. I just never quite twigged on it before. But after reading Nowhere Near Respectable, I remembered other historicals with the same energy, mystery, suspense, action and intrigue. Joanna Bourne’s Spymaster's series immediately comes to mind. And now, after reading Ms. Putney’s Lost Lords series, I realize it doesn’t matter whether the action involves an AK-47 strapped on the back of a CIA operative or a revolver pulled from a reticule, romantic suspense, in any era, if done right, is exciting.
Our heroine, Lady Kiri Lawford is a delight from start to finish, with a strong sense of self, a keen intelligence and a ‘warrior’s mentality’; she is also the perfect match for Mac. Damain ‘Mac’ MacKenzie was born a bastard to an actress and a Lord, and although his beginnings are dubious at best, he has become the owner of one of the most fashionable gambling establishments in London. He is also a gentleman and a friend to Lady Kiri’s brother, the Duke of Ashton (Loving a Lost Lord ). Their first meeting is definitely not at a cotillion or during the fashionable hour at Hyde Park. No, as with most romantic suspense, he finds her tied up after being kidnapped by smugglers; again, here is where that whole bound, beaten and bleeding thing comes into play. And it wouldn’t be a true romantic suspense without an escape, a kiss and these two people from opposite sides of the track teaming up to thwart a plot to kill the Prince Regent of England.
The plot is intriguing with just enough background into the Napoleonic era to keep the tension alive. But it is the hero and heroine who steal the show. Ms. Putney gives us a wonderful character in Kiri. Half Indian and half English, born to a Duke but quietly ostracized from polite society because of her mixed heritage, she is far from your wilting English Miss. In fact, she is quite the opposite. Raised in India with strong women as role models and a loving family, she is a unique product of both cultures with a forthrightness that is endearing, enchanting and engaging. Her rigor and commitment to help stop the plot against the Prince Regent is equal only to her passion and compassion towards Mac.
Mac, is also a product of his environment and is not considered a respectable suitor for a Duke’s sister. He is a man with secrets and a past, and yet, in so many ways he has become a man worthy of the title “Gentlemen”. His typical stance of courage and certainty is shaken when he meets Kiri. With her he is constantly fighting that inner “Gentlemen” to ensure he does ‘the right thing.” But let’s face it. The right thing isn’t easy when you’re trying to fight the good fight while running for your life. As with all good romantic suspense novels, dodging whatever arsenal is thrown your way, trying to keep your head attached to your neck and helping to save each other’s lives is what heightens the chemistry between the protagonists until it’s almost electric.
I found Nowhere Near Respectable to be a perfect blend of Regency romance and suspense; with two people from different classes saving the day and along the way finding each other.