Billie here again, and I want to share a recent revelation with you: Reading a Stephanie Laurens novel is like eating a bag of Hershey's Kisses. It's a rather compulsive thing, and even though I mean to stop at one or two (chapters or Kisses), I end up devouring the whole lot in one go. Afterwards, I have a vague memory of enjoying the act, but realize that I received no nourishment whatsoever.
Laurens's newest title, Mastered By Love, is the eighth and final novel in the Bastion Club series (ninth, if you count Captain Jack's Woman, which I don't, since it was a prequel) and tells the story of the mysterious spymaster formerly known only as Dalziel. It turns out his name is Royce Varisey and he's just inherited the dukedom from his estranged and now deceased father and retired from the spy game. I've been waiting for Dalziel's story since the very first Bastion Club novel because he was so mysterious and not even his cadre of super-spies could find out anything about him. Unfortunately, once he retired from spydom and started answering to his real name, I lost all interest in him. He turned out to not be very different from a hundred other romance heroes. And Minerva, his chatelaine and love interest, was highly competent and intelligent, but often so bland as to be the human equivalent of beige. Additionally, there were Laurens's usual incredibly long sex scenes (eight to ten pages in relatively small type tends to get tiresome), the bringing down of a villain (the last traitor from previous Bastion Club books), the heroine in life-threatening jeopardy, and the requisite cameos by Lady Osbaldstone and assorted Cynsters.
But, for all that,Mastered by Love is a highly enjoyable way to spend a few hours. Royce and Minerva, when they are together on the page, lose some of their blandness. I never quite believed that this was the love match full of sexual desire that it was portrayed to be, but I did believe that these two would work well together on estate business, as well as liking each other quite a lot. I couldn't see them engaged in a lifelong grand passion, but could easily imagine them loving each other very deeply and living a life of quiet contentment together.
It's not a perfect book any more than Kisses are perfect chocolate, but, like those foil-wrapped treats, it was just what I needed and expected it to be.
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Billie Bloebaum is a bona fide romance reader and would be reading romance novels even if she weren't reviewing them. She is also a new convert to eBooks, thanks to the writers of the blog Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, who kindly loaned her a Sony Reader. However, since Billie has a deep and abiding love for the traditional book, she attempts to review books that are available in both formats.
Books mentioned in this post