Vexing the Viscount by Emily Bryan
My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Having read - and not particularly liked - Pleasuring the Pirate a few days ago, I decided to lower my expectations about its sequel Vexing the Viscount. My reasoning was, if I didn't expect a masterpiece, anything from the same level of the previous book would be nice. Well, I'm sorry to say that not even my low expectations were met...
Daisy Drake was introduced in Pleasuring the Pirate as one of Gabriel Drake's nieces. Vexing the Viscount is her story. As the story opens, she's "admiring" an ancient lamp (shaped like a penis) on display at the Society of Antiquaries when she runs into Lucian Beaumont, Viscount Rutland, who's there to give a lecture about an ancient piece he's discovered that can lead to the recovery of a long lost Roman treasure. Lucian is almost in dire straits and needs to find this Roman treasure in order to restore his family's fortune and secure his future, but he doesn't have the money to afford the search. Daisy's interested in joining and funding his treasure hunt but, unfortunately, Lucian's father hates Daisy's uncle - and therefore all her family - so any association between Lucian and Daisy is (supposedly) impossible.
Bored and annoyed by Lucian's refusal to allow her to join his treasure hunt, Daisy decides to masquerade as a courtesan named Blanche and attend one of her great-aunt's parties. Lucian is invited to the same party, thanks to Daisy's great-aunt's doing, and he's instantly smitten with "Blanche". When Daisy realizes that he hasn't recognized her, she harbors the "perfect" plan to join the coveted treasure hunt: as "Blanche", she offers to fund his project, knowing he has no reason to refuse. And so he accepts, only to find out later that "Blanche" wants Daisy to act as "her" agent and work with him. Naturally, Lucian and Daisy working close together makes them fall in love with each other in short time. But wait, what about "Blanche"? Part of "her" agreement with Lucian includes lovemaking lessons, i.e., he wants her to teach him how to please a woman. Remember, he's a virgin and she's supposed to be a courtesan. But she's also a virgin, so what can she teach him??? *rolls eyeballs* Thankfully, it doesn't take long before Lucian guesses who's behind "Blanche"'s mask, this silliness is over, and they can concentrate on the treasure hunt. But there's more behind this treasure hunt that meets the eye... Is the treasure really valuable? Is it worth dying for?
This was a very strange story, with a mix of romance, humor and mystery, that didn't work for me. Lucian and Daisy were likable, but their romance didn't move me and I was actually more interested in following their treasure hunt than in watching their sexcapades. I "blame" Ms. Bryan's writing for that, because Lucian and Daisy's love scenes, from flirting and kissing to foreplay and lovemaking, just left me cold. I don't know what the problem is exactly, but there's something about Ms. Bryan's writing that doesn't work for me. Lucian and Daisy's interactions were sometimes funny, but never romantic or sexy in my eyes. The story was filled with sexual innuendos and phallic symbolism - based on what was found in Lucian's archeological dig, Romans were obsessed with sex -, but that didn't make it hot or enjoyable to read.
Lucian's character wasn't that well-drawn either. He was viewed by the ton as a reclusive rake, but he was actually still a virgin. Huh? How did he acquire such a "bad" reputation if he didn't have the money to attend the ton's social events, play cards for money, take mistresses, or even court (and slightly compromise) young ladies? It didn't make sense. As for Daisy, don't get me started on the whole acting-like-a-courtesan charade. Only a virgin could buy that act, LOL.
I know several readers enjoyed this book, but I'm sorry to say I'm not one of them. This was only my second book by Ms. Bryan and, considering both books failed to win me, I doubt I'll ever read another book by her.
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