Sunday, February 17, 2008

It's the Teacher's Turn

The School for Heiresses series has released its newest addition: Let Sleeping Rogues Lie.

Madeline Prescott has taken a teaching position with the school as her own family troubles concerning her ailing father weigh on her shoulders. Her father, a doctor, is depressed for an accident done that is now deemed a crime concerning the use of nitrous oxide. Anthony Dalton, Viscount Norcourt, needs the guardianship of his young niece and therefore will need the backing up of a good school for him to fight the custody battle in court. Too bad he has carefully cultivated a reputation for bad behavior since his childhood has told him that he cannot be good. But to rescue his niece from the fate that he suffered as a child, he must win Madeline's approval and has agreed to teach the girls at the school lessons on how to spot a rake in exchange for the guarantee of his niece's admission. 

The fourth full novel of the series, not counting the small part in the anthology entitled Anthology: School for Heiresses, seems the confirm the slump that the author and the series has fallen into. Perhaps it's unjust to label it a slump, but maybe a 'rush' would be more appropriate. While I don't think that the series started on a solid footing with Never Seduce a Scoundrel, I did love Only a Duke Will Do. I thought the emotional complexities of Simon and Louisa and the weaving of multiple plots and roadblocks was well done and classic Jeffries. Maybe with Simon and Louisa, they enjoyed the ability to begin in a previous book and finally finish in their own novel. However, I think, should we have first met SImon and Louisa in their book and not before, the story would have still been told with the same effect. The stories after them just don't seem to be as complex. There is one major roadblock to the happy ending, and even those are becoming paltry and not sufficient.

Anthony's childhood, while sad, was not written with enough depth to consider it to be his true hinderance for romance with Madeline. And Madeline's constant search for her father's truth to set him free was a stretch and not emotional enough. The connection shared by the hero and heroine was adequate but not heart-wrenching like other characters written by Jeffries. Anthony's fear of 'releasing his beast' was too contrived and at odds with his character. Though I can understand how his upbringing would turn him into the 'bad boy,' his fear of his sexuality was a nice try for Jeffries to explore new territory. However, it was not fleshed out enough and at the end, it seemed to be a plot thread that the author was grasping at for an attempt to pull the strings together. The ending was anti-climatic and I was not on the edge of my seat, nor was I fearing that the happy ending was too far from reach. Those two elements, the 'sitting on the edge of my seat' and 'oh, my is this story going to end happy?' feeling have been cornerstones of Jeffries' historicals. But, it seems that she has lost her touch recently. Though I love her writing, I would not recommend his book.

One of the few highlights of the story was to see Simon as Anthony's friend and Simon's brief mention to his happy marriage with Louisa. Unfortunately, Let Sleeping Rogues Lie was obviously rushed and did not have significant time to stew and develop into a true Jeffries novel. Disappointing, seeing as how I've waiting with baited breath since I did not particularly enjoy the last novel either.

While the book did not have glaring spotlight-type flaws, it was not on par to what I've come to associate with Jeffries' books.

2.5 out of 5: Disappointment in terms of being a Jeffries, but is definitely not the worst I've read. There are many more that would be considered lesser but this is not worthy of being novel to Jeffries' standards. Will keep copy because it adds to the collection but is not a re-read.

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