The Dangerous Viscount
by Miranda Neville
The back blurb gives the impression that The Dangerous Viscount is just another rake avoiding marriage but brought down by the power of love stories. It is nothing of the kind, and I was very pleasantly surprised by the turns that Miranda Neville tossed out in her latest book.
Sebastian isn't a rake at all. To put it plainly, he is a nerd, and a virgin. It was so refreshing to read a book about a hero who wasn't a rake. Sebastian isn't a twenty-six year old virgin because he is a priest or anything. Far from it. He was raised by a curmudgeonly greatuncle who had been betrayed by love in his youth and who taught Sebastian that women couldn't be trusted. Sebastian has his own reasons for not trusting women as well though. When he was six years old his mother remarried and moved to Italy, leaving Sebastian in England. When he was eleven he was forced to visit his cousins where he was tormented by Blakeney and his younger sisters. Sebastian did not have an easy time growing up because he was also blind as a bat, prompting Blakeney to start calling Sebastion “Owlverley.” The enmity between the cousins has never lessened and is a big part of the conflict in The Dangerous Viscount.
Blakeney and his impromptu house party intrude upon Sebastian's solitude forcing him to mix with women. It is here that Sebastian becomes smitten with Diana when he catches a glimpse of her pink silk stocking. Unfortunately, Diana is only interested in capturing Blakeney and has no patience for other men who may be smitten. When Blakeney and his friend propose a wager than Sebastian can't be tempted to kiss any woman, Diana readily bets that she can get Sebastian to kiss her. His very first kiss. It does take her a few days to get that kiss, and during that time she comes to respect Sebastian, despite his thick glasses, his unkempt appearance in faded, baggy clothes, and his utter lack of social graces.
After the kiss, Sebastian is flying high, eager to propose to Diana, until he overhears Blakeney and his friend bragging about the wager, which further justifies Sebastian's belief that women are best avoided. This is only the tip of the iceberg though. Miranda Neville throws in a few more surprises to get in the way of true love, including a transformation of Sebastian, a petty revenge bit, Sebastian's deflowering, a surprise engagement, and a hasty wedding. This book has more turns than a roller-coaster but, it is a fun ride.
Diana may have had her heart set on marrying Blakeney since she was fourteen but, as her family observed, it was more habit than affection, which is the main reason it took her so long to see that Sebastian was the better match for her. At first I wasn't sure I was going to like Diana as a character, let alone the main character, but, she quickly grew on me. Conversely, when I first started The Dangerous Viscount I loved Sebastian, then somewhere around the middle I wasn't so sure about him anymore. Luckily everything worked out as it should and Diana and Sebastian ended up being an intriguing couple, as well as a perfect match.
This book also takes place among the world of rare book collectors and once again I was fascinated. Readers get treated to Juliana and Chase from the first book and I loved the parts they played in bringing Sebastian to heel. The Dangerous Viscount is another winner for Miranda Neville. This may be only her third book but, she has secured her place on my auto-buy list as well as my keeper shelf.
If you haven't read Miranda Neville yet, what are you waiting for? Run to the nearest bookstore and grab your copy of The Dangerous Viscount.
Reviewed by: Valarie Pelissero
“Another bibliophile heads down the aisle.”
October 2010, 384 pages
Lady Diana Fanshawe's impeccable bloodline doesn't stop society from laughing at the antics of her eccentric family. She knows a proper marriage is her one chance to make her way in the world - which is precisely why she will marry Lord Blakeney, though she's certain she'll never love him. But then she's kissed by the brilliant and unconventional Sebastian, Viscount Iverley…and her well-laid plans tumble into disarray.
Sebastian wants absolutely nothing to do with love or marriage. But when he arrives at his hated cousin Blakeney's house party, Sebastian is smitten by the tantalizing Diana. But Diana is “the marrying kind,” and Sebastian has no wish to risk his freedom - though the passion between them is hard to resist. Should the lady follow her heart in an attempt to win Iverley's, though it seems hardened against her - or should she sacrifice her love for respectability?