Review: The Lady Risks All by Stephanie Laurens


The Lady Risks All by Stephanie Laurens
2012-09-25 (Avon)

Rating: C
Heat: Warm

Heroine: Miranda Clifford – Orphan, Older Sister 
Hero: Neville Roscoe – Aristocrat, Gambling Den Owner



Miranda Clifford has spent most of her life ruled by societies expectations. Raised with the belief that scandal must be avoided at all costs, Miranda’s guardians—two elder aunts—have managed to quell her fiery, independent nature. Having spent most of her adult life in the role of caregiver and, essentially, mother to her brother Roderick, she has always focused all her time and energy on him. But now that he’s reached his majority, she realizes she needs to let him go. Let him be his own person. As Miranda struggles to figure out who she is and what she wants out of life, her brother abruptly disappears. Fearing the worst, Miranda seeks help from her disreputable neighbor, and Gambling King, Neville Roscoe.

Neville Roscoe, born Lord Julian Delbraith, gave up his life as he knew it to become the man his family needed him to be. In doing so, he lost bits of himself over time and evolved into someone markedly different. In cultivating his reputation, Roscoe has built up a hard outer shell. He doesn’t let people get close to him, and he doesn’t get close to others. When Miranda shows up asking for help, his honorable nature comes to the fore and he simply can’t refuse her. And when she keeps showing up every day, needing to be involved in the effort to find her brother, it becomes clear she may be the one woman who can open him up.

The Lady Risks All has so much going for it. A hero who, though an aristocrat, lives outside their rules and pretty much thumbs his nose at the ton. A heroine who, though she has always held firm to her respectability, isn’t afraid to let go and make her own way. It also has an intriguing mystery that is weaved throughout and takes the characters, as well as the reader, on an exciting adventure. All of the characters, even the most minor of side characters, are fleshed out and evolve as the story progresses. The Lady Risks All has romance, adventure, mystery, and substance… nearly 500 pages of it.

When I saw the page count, I was excited for a lengthy romance I could really sink my teeth into. Publishers usually cap romance novels closer to 400 or less pages. At first, those extra pages paid off. It felt almost like reading a complete season of Downton Abby. You know, where you really get to see every detail of the characters lives. Even those that could be considered mundane. It gives you an intricate and well-rounded view of their lives and, sometimes, the little things can be the most interesting. Which proved true... till a bit past the halfway mark.

Then I started to skip paragraphs. Sometimes whole pages. It grew to feel... bloated. Bogged down by prosy and lyrical descriptions. It seems sacrilegious for me to even write this, but I even skipped the love scenes. They were simply too... wordy. Drawn out and out and out.

He kissed her and wondered, then drew a deeper breath and plunged into her mouth, claimed and sought, and she kissed him back with building urgency until between them the flames ignited and rose.
Heat spread, insidiously urgent, beneath their skins. Desire rode, hungry and needy, in its wake.
So many questions and the answers... some of the answers, surely, lay here, between them. In what flared between them.

Perhaps I just have an extreme dislike of run-on sentences. An apparent pet peeve of mine I wasn’t unaware of until this book, where they were myriad and plentiful. It’s beautiful, don’t get me wrong. But that goes on for pages and pages. Prosy descriptions of their kissing, followed by paragraphs dedicated to removing her clothes and then his clothes... I couldn’t help thinking at one point, ‘Alright already, get her darn laces untied. It’s not that difficult. And, please, quit analyzing every single thing.’

Well. Now that you are forewarned on that score... moving on...

The journey, the evolution, that takes places between Miranda and Roscoe as they traverse the country side to find her brother… that’s what motivated me to keep reading. Watching them fall slowly in like and then in love was heartwarming. It captivated me to see Miranda grow stronger and more sure of herself. Discover what it means to be a woman. And, equally captivating, I enjoyed seeing Roscoe loosen up and gradually open up. The fact that it all happens while they’re moving from town to town, chasing leads and dodging bad guys, well, it added fun and high jinks to the plot.

Once her brother is saved, however, the pace takes a real hit. And it’s between then and the end that the story would have greatly benefited from a whole lot of red pen. It would’ve been a more tight and concise novel if that portion had been cut down. It was riddled with multiple rehashings of events that had just taken place. Even going so far as to have one continuous dialogue rehashing that filled my entire kindle screen. Roscoe must’ve been very out of breath by the time he finished speaking.

The Lady Risks All is energetic and fun. An engrossing historical romance filled with adventure. It has a great premise, excellent character development, and a mystery that keeps you guessing. Unfortunately, it is all but lost in the sheer volume you have to wade through.

Favorite Quote:

They both froze. For an instant, for a fraction of a heartbeat.
Lids lowered, her gaze had locked on his lips. His gaze was on her face.
Then he moved. She moved.
And their lips touched again.
This time they clung.
Hers softened; his firmed.
And the connection became real.

Thoughts While Reading:

54.0% - "This is kind of feels like watching an ep of Downton Abby."
100.0% - "That was... exhausting? Very slow pace at the end."


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