The Legendary Lord by Valerie Bowman
Series: The Playful Brides, #6
Released: November 1, 2016
St. Martin’s Paperbacks
Reviewed by Sheena
When Christian Forester, Viscount Berkeley, flees the stuffy ballrooms of London for his Scottish hunting lodge, the last thing he expects to find ensconced before his fire is an incredibly beautiful woman. But the plight of lovely young Sarah Highgate, who has run away from an unwanted betrothal, inspires an eminently practical exchange. He’ll safeguard her reputation with the ton while she advises him how to best attract a proper bride…
As the undisputed belle of the season, Sarah has enchanted plenty of suitors. Still, she isn’t interested in marriage, especially not to the pompous bore her father has chosen for her. But her hasty escape seems reckless now that she’s estranged from her family and has no one to count on besides Christian. Turning the luckless lord into such a catch has another unplanned consequence for Sarah: Has he run away with her heart?
Favorite Quote: “It’s never been about your clothes or your boots or even your reputation. Do you want to know the real reason you aren’t married yet, Christian? Look in the mirror.”
Six novels deep into her acclaimed Regency romance series, The Playful Brides, and Valerie Bowman still have me at hello. I am perpetually thrilled whenever it is time for a new Playful Bride release and The Legendary Lord does not disappoint! The hero is after a life of solitude and peace, the heroine has brashly thrown off a most unwanted engagement and together, they are one of the most hilarious and engaging couples in he series to date. You don’t know gut busting snark until you dive into a Bowman 19th century novel. The banter rivals the romance, both outstanding and flawless in delivery.
Sarah is eighteen and on the lam! Refusing to marry a man she isn’t in love with or in the least bit attracted to, she has found herself in dire straits and at the mercy and good will of the recent self-exiling, Lord Christian. Not sure of what to make of the lady, aside from being completely smitten by her guileless beauty, he faux grudgingly invites her into his company after finding her dressed as a servant, squatting in his home for three days after her botched though daring, escape from society.
Her breath came in panting gasps, and her breasts – which Christian had quite a good view of, actually, given that he was close to a foot taller than her- were heaving. She was frightened. Good. Thieves shouldn’t get too comfortable.
“I told you, I’m not a thief. Let go of me.” She struggled harder to break free of his grasp.
He tightened his hold on her arm. “Is anyone else with you?”
“How long have you been here?”
“This is my third night.”
“You have been in my home three nights?” Outraged, he glanced around the room, searching.
“What have you taken, Thief!”
Needless to say, their romance had a bumpy start- yet blossoms from there. Though the ideals and formalities of society’s expectations loom overhead, the actual story takes place far, far away from the busybody, judgmental know-it-all’s that comprise the ton. The Lord’s hidden away Scotland cottage was a beautiful landscape and felt like a haven for the lovers. Almost immediately I was torn between fantasizing about their triumphant return to society and clutching them to my heart, praying they never leave their haven, their romance all their own! In either case, the pages burned through my fingers, and I couldn’t turn them fast enough. The winter landscape brought feels of Beauty and the Beast. Lord Christian, the faux curmudgeon beast without the unsightly visage of course, and Sarah, beautiful and brave Belle. Pure and kind, but with a backbone and headstrong bite! Not only did Bowman deftly craft an alluring historical romance, she likened it to a freaking fairy-tale to boot! I. Was. In. Heaven.
There was no fast and furious tumbling and disposal of honor for these two. Both Christian and Sarah stubbornly held their own reasons for believing the other would not make a proper spouse. Attracted yet headstrong, they instead carved out a friendship so sweet and genuine that it was only a matter of time before their romance truly took form. They are snowed in friends with passionate undercurrents strengthening and intruding on their every thought. is “they-were-snowed-in-and-fell-in-love” troupe terribly unique? Of course not. Is it still fun to jump in and lose yourself in the steamy warm and fuzzies of the build up to HEA? Certainly!
Surprisingly, the plot takes a twist when Sarah decides to return to London. They both have obstacles to surpass. She is ripe for scandal and all but ruined without the help of Christians friends who will vouch for Sarah’s virtues and help her deflect any scandal from her time as a runaway in a Scotland man’s cottage. Christian could use Sarah’s help in becoming a most eligible bachelor for the season. Surprise, surprise, what was once, “snowed-in-friends-to lovers-because-duh-close-proximity-and-body-heat” has now evolved into “I-love-you-but-I’ll-make-you-the-most-wanted-Lord/Lady-and-then-I’ll-get-jealous-and-snatch-you-for-myself” troupe and I live for it! The misunderstandings, the banter, the stubbornness that leads to heart break and tears, the reconciliations and the the clever (but backfiring) plots and the pivotal moment when the past women of the Playful Brides series cameo and save the day for our self-destructing lead couple! It. Is. Sooo. Damn. Delightful! What was predictable became more predictable but with the added dimension, it’s become something more and from start to finish a fun, escapist romantic adventure that I didn’t break away from once. I knew there was an HEA- because- duh, Regency Romance– but there was enough intrigue and poor character decisions (I’m glowering at you Christian!) that the HEA felt hard won and victorious. I read this gem in one sitting, in awe of how funny and interesting and enthralling this Playful Brides world could be.
Book seven is aptly titled, “Never Trust a Pirate,” and stars the series favorite secondary character, Cade Cavendish (yes!!!!) and I am quite literally counting the days that I get my hands on it! Each book in the Playful Brides series stands alone, but it is such a fun and easy series to adore, I don’t doubt you could resist reading them ALL!