Never one to read an author in half measures, I seized upon the Anne Mallory section of my favorite independent local used bookseller.
The first I read was Masquerading the Marquess, about a caricaturist named Calliope who dons a daring disguse to target the deliciously easy target of the Marquess of Angelford. Mystery force the unlikely pair together, blending suspense and romance together.
The next Anne Mallory was Daring the Duke. Audrey is a duplicitious heroine forced to thievery to get by until she is able to shake her past. Then a series of thefts among the ton rouses the suspicion of her arch adversary, Duke of Marston Stephen Chalmers, who in addition to being a dashing rogue is also a gentleman spy.
What Isabella Desires is the story of two friends, one who has transformed herself into a bewitching, scandalous lady. And then there is the unlikely coincidence of The Earl of Her Dreams, when driven to flee by an unbiddable marriage Kate Simon (disguised as a boy) is thrown together with Christian Black to help solve a murder at a snowed in country inn.
The last of the group was The Viscounts Wicked Ways, which I regretfully finished a few days ago. Patience, an antiquarian, goes to catalogue treasures at gothic Blackfield Castle as a means to escape the bumblebroth of Town. But mysterious noises and sudden accidents make Patience wonder what really lurks behind Thomas’ slow seduction.
What I love about Anne Mallory, besides her too hot love scenes (I am now of the opinion its some of the best in contempo hist-ro), her talent for making the reader sink into the scene and really connect with characters is unsurpassed. While sometimes I stumble with the leisurely road she takes for character development, I think its also part of the thrill of her books…like a good suspense, even though the instinct is to rush to the reveal, the process itself (and the anticipation) is what is truly titillating.
Although usually well past Regency, I also find her plots to be different enough from the pat formula and her characters interesting and different enough to keep my interest. Indeed, although I have my favorite archetypal characters, its nice once in while to go against typecast and fall in love with someone new.
For those looking for a less steamy session, Mallory will not be your cup of tea. But for those brave enough to fog up your reading glasses (imaginary, or real), Anne Mallory is an addictive author.
She has a really great website, too, with a cute cartoon trailer (she draws!) for What Isabella Desires: http://www.annemallory.com/books/what-isabella-desires/#cartoon