Madeline Hunter: The Romantic

Julian Hampton is the fifth member of the London Dueling Society, the reserved, enigmatic lawyer to the Laclere family. All his life, it seemed, Julian had been in love with Penelope, now Countess of Glasbury. And when he learned the horrors she had endured at the hands of her vicious husband, Julian was instrumental in arranging for her escape to Italy. But he has never forgotten the love of his childhood, the woman he had rescued first as a “damsel in distress” when she was a girl, and then for real once she had blossomed into woman. When Penelope returns secretly to London, Julian is the one she turns to, even though her trust in him puts both their reputations, and ultimately their lives, in peril.

Despite his reputation, Hampton has been devoted to Penelope.  He is a solicitor who, supposedly dull and boring, suddenly finds himself got in Penelope’s chaotic whirlwind.

If it sounds like a serious plot, it is.  There is little light and humor (which I admit I favor), and more gripping drama.  Part of a series of hist-ro/legal thrillers, Hunter shows off her interest in real to life challenges with a historical backdrop.

Publisher’s Weekly wrote a negative review of The Romantic, mostly because the book dissolves into one of those situations where if everyone just broke confidences/silences everything could be resolved.  I think some readers will find the hero’s silent self-sacrificing charming (if only because its a man doing such for once).

There is some kinky sexual content, but surprisingly not very much in the way of love scenes.  As I have read further and further into the genre, that on its own does not necessarily make a bad hist-ro (there are really only so many ways one can describe coitus and sometimes its simply unnecessary to the romantic fibre of a book).

My personal issue with the book is the heroine.  I just wanted to slap her most of the time.  I think others who are more tolerant of the “damsel in distress” won’t be bothered by this.  But for me, the essence of a good hist-ro is a strong hero and an even stronger heroine.

Granted, Penelope really does have some legitimate gripes against her creepy husband.  And, it serves to justify her adultery.

So, this was one of those books when I had to do a little digging and see what other people thought about it to suss out my own opinion.  Ala Amazon, the reviews were mostly positive.  Many of those folks had read the whole series and loved it (which sometimes can help).

Ultimately, it doesn’t pass I want to re-read it test for me, but I think folks who like legal thrillers and a little more serious tone hist-ro could enjoy it.

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