Book Review: Sabrina Jeffries’ How to Woo a Reluctant Lady

Posted February 6, 2012 by Kathy Davie in

by Kathy Davie

How to Woo a Reluctant Lady (Hellions of Halstead Hall, #3)How to Woo a Reluctant Lady by Sabrina Jeffries
Series: Hellions of Halstead Hall, 3
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Third in the Hellions of Halstead Hall historical romance series about the Sharpe family. The couple focus is on Lady Miranda Sharpe and Giles Masters.

My Take
I’m rather disillusioned with Jeffries. While she has never been a strictly accurate historical romance writer, she has at least been reasonably within the time period. Her last story, A Hellion in her Bed, seems to be the start of a downhill spiral that this installment is continuing.

The story is cute enough, but I do prefer accuracy in the culture and mores in any historical fiction. The plot line is also much too thin with absolutely no depth to it.

Minerva pisses me off. She uses what she’s learned about Giles in her novel after she’s promised she won’t. Sure she changes a couple teeny details but leaves enough in that people recognize the situation and can make connections. As far as I’m concerned, she hasn’t a leg to stand on.

Oh please, “Guard’s Bouquet”??? Gimme a break. Why not just make it Axe for Men?!

I do like that Giles sees beneath to the real Minerva and that he supports her career as an author. Too funny to read how Minerva’s brothers suddenly see Giles as a pervert just because he wants to marry their sister. In spite of the fact that they’ve been “brothers in crime”, so to speak.

The Story
Minerva fell in love with Giles Masters the day he helped her get through her mother’s funeral. The kiss they exchanged just after the masquerade almost cemented it until Giles threw it back in her face. That settled his fate. Be careful how you anger Minerva or you may just find yourself in one of her novels.

Some years later, Giles has decided to step back from the work he’s been doing for the Home Office. The possibility of becoming a King’s Counsel has certainly made him reconsider his life. As does the notice that Ravenswood brings to his attention. Of Minerva’s advertisement requesting gentlemen to interview as husband material.

On no account will any other gentlemen have a chance at Minerva! She is his. And if he has to make a deal with her to circumvent her trying to put one over on her grandmother…well, so be it. It’s just…well, after all the off-beat skills that Giles exhibits, Minerva begins to believe that he’s a thief.

In one of many attempts to prove himself to Minerva, Giles invites her to attend a trial in which he is defending an accused murderer. It’s his prowess in this defense that perhaps Giles might see something the constable missed at her parents’ murder scene. And forces her to consider that maybe Giles isn’t such a rogue after all. It’s his other attempts to prove his love for her that have her melting.

It’s their continuing struggles that finally bring enlightenment on a score of issues: his father’s suicide, Desmond’s perfidy, fresh information on their parents’ murders, the trust and support of each other, and the truth behind Giles’ wide-ranging skills.

The Characters
Minerva uses the books she writes to avoid the trauma of her parents’ murder. She’s panted after Giles from the day he held her hand throughout her parents’ funeral and finally got to kiss him. A kiss that had him insulting her terribly. So she skewered him in her books as the Marquess of Dockton.

Giles Masters is Jarret’s friend, a viscount’s son, and a barrister of some renown. David, the Viscount Kirkwood, is Giles’ older brother. Mr. Jenks is one of Giles’ clerks. Mr. Wallace Lancaster is one of Giles’ clients. Accused of murder, Giles masterfully gets him off while Minerva is in the court. His mother Lady Kirkwood bursts Minerva’s bubble of happiness.

Jarret Sharpe is running the brewery and happily married to a pregnant Annabel and living at the house with Oliver and his pregnant wife Maria. His other unmarried siblings include Gabe, a.k.a., the Angel of Death and Celia. Hetty Plumtree, a.k.a., Gran, is their common grandmother who is insisting that all her grandchildren marry within the year or they will all be cut out of her will. Jackson Pinter is a Bow Street Runner the family practically has on retainer. Freddy, a cousin of Maria’s, must have a tapeworm for all that he can’t stop thinking about food.

Viscount Ravenswood is a friend of Giles’ and the undersecretary to the Home Office as well as his contact for the spying he does for the government. Lord Newmarsh was the host of the masquerade where Minerva caught Giles. Nor is he averse to blackmail. The beginning of the end for Sir John Sully.

Desmond Plumtree is a most hated cousin; evidence seems to be pointing to him as the murderer of their parents and his appearance with his son Ned at Gabe’s race at Turnham is quite suspicious.

Virginia Waverly is the sister of Roger Waverly, the best friend of Gabe’s who died when Roger and Gabe raced seven years ago at Turnham.

The Cover
The cover is all purples and fleshtones as a purple-gowned Miranda looks back over her shoulder at the almost-dressed Giles.

The title is accurate enough for the about-to-be-KC Giles Masters needs help in How to Woo a Reluctant Lady.


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