Improper Relations by Janet Mullany

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Improper Relations by Janet Mullany

Category: Historical Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Katie Pullen
Reviewed by Katie Pullen
Summary: A light-hearted yet racy and witty romance set against a regency period backdrop. Yes it's all predictable stuff, but who cares, this is great fun and will keep you entertained.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 320 Date: February 2010
Publisher: Little Black Dress
ISBN: 978-0755347803

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Unlucky in love Charlotte Hayden has just lost her best friend and confidante Ann in marriage to the Earl of Beresford. At the wedding she encounters Lord Shadderly, Beresford's best friend, a broodingly handsome man whom she takes an immediate dislike to. Before she knows it Charlotte is caught in a compromising situation with Shadderly and he is forced to propose to her or risk both their reputations.

Within days the two are wed, and as their marriage of convenience begins Charlotte and Shad quickly discover they are a match for each other in the bedroom, if nowhere else. Despite their lust there is little else to sustain their relationship as they know nothing of each other, and Charlotte is desperate for Ann's return.

When Ann finally returns from honeymoon she reveals a scandalous secret to Charlotte, causing Charlotte to struggle with her loyalty to her friend and her newfound expected loyalty to her husband. Meanwhile, Shad hears a damning rumour about Charlotte, which he allows to plague him and he cannot let the matter rest. Through secret rendezvous, miscommunications and errors of judgement on both parts, Charlotte and Shad's relationship is tested to the limit, and Ann and Beresford's marriage isn't looking too great either. Will they be able to make their marriages work?

If I came across Improper Relations in a bookshop I probably wouldn't pick it up or indeed buy it, as its cover is quite garish, the plot sounds hackneyed and it appears to belong on the Mills and Boon shelf, not that there's anything wrong with that, it's just not my usual read. However, between the covers of Improper Relations lies a beauty of a romance that is well written, sharp and witty, with complex characters that you really want to get to know, an engaging plot, and of course that all important happy ending. As a twist on conventional romances, this novel starts practically at the wedding of our hero and heroine, giving us a romance that develops after their marriage. Although it's clear that Charlotte and Shad are meant for each other, they have to learn some valuable lessons in love and indeed life before they can find true happiness.

Both Charlotte and Shad are well-drawn complex and equally matched characters, (as are Ann and Beresford), both aware of their moral and social obligations in life, though not always particularly impressed by these, thus allowing Mullany to illustrate and indeed ridicule the somewhat ridiculous social etiquette of the period, notably the acceptance by the wedding guests of Shad's supposed illegitimate children. I found myself laughing out loud at this passage and indeed a few others, which certainly added to my enjoyment of the novel.

I also really liked the dual narrative of Charlotte and Shad throughout the novel. All too often with romance novels we only ever have our heroine's viewpoint, so it's refreshing to see what really goes on in the mind of our brooding hero, which naturally is exactly the opposite of what we as readers and Charlotte expect.

Although this is classed as a regency romp, Mullany expertly manages to avoid detailing any sex scenes and instead flirts with our imaginations. Some readers may be disappointed if they are expecting a bodice ripper, but I was relieved as I feared there may be some awkward clichés if Mullany had gone down the explicit road which would have detracted from the enjoyment of the novel.

All in all Improper Relations is a thoroughly enjoyable read and one I would definitely recommend to anyone wanting a bit of escapism and fun.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

Further Reading Suggestion: If you like the sound of this book, you may also enjoy the Desperate Duchesses series by Eloisa James.

Buy Improper Relations by Janet Mullany at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Improper Relations by Janet Mullany at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Improper Relations by Janet Mullany at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Improper Relations by Janet Mullany at Amazon.com.


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