England's Perfect Hero

Suzanne Enoch
2004, European Historical Romance (Regency England)
Avon, $5.99, 384 pages, Amazon ASIN 0060543132
Part of a series

Grade: B
Sensuality: Warm

England's Perfect Hero is my first Suzanne Enoch. Although I usually prefer my historical romances with a bit more history, and this one is more of the history wall-paper type, it's still very enjoyable because of the likable characters.

When Lucinda Barrett's friends drew up lists for "lessons in love," they ended up married to their pupils. Lucinda draws up her own list and decides that Lord Geoffrey Newcombe is going be her pupil. Geoffrey is quite the handsomest man in London; he's also very amiable and a Waterloo hero. If, as happened to her friends, the lessons end in marriage, it would be to Geoffrey's advantage since Lucinda's father is a general and Geoffrey needs some influence in high places. And Lucinda likes him very much.

But Lucinda's plans are interrupted by the presence of Robert Carroway, Lord Dare's brother. Robert was tortured in a French prison and has suffered from panic attacks for several years. Silent and withdrawn, he can't bear being in Society. His family loves him and has tried to help, but Robert's pain runs deep and they can't seem to reach him. Lucinda knows the Carroway family since her friend Georgianna's lessons in love ended with her becoming Lady Dare. Lucinda is kind and wants to help Robert so she brings him some cuttings from her roses to start a garden.

Robert slowly begins to join the world again. His recovery is slow, but he warms to Lucinda's patience and kindness and his family's concern. Robert tries to go out and dance again and finds his panic attacks are not as debilitating as they were in the past. Then some papers go missing from Horse Guards (military headquarters) and Robert is suspect. But he's not as weak as he once was, and he has the support of his family and a woman who loves him.

Robert is the strongest character in England's Perfect Hero and a fine example of a tortured hero. Kept in a prison wherein English officers were tortured and interrogated, if they broke and gave information they were released as traitors. If they withstood the torture, they were killed. Robert would not talk. He was shot and tossed out of the prison, all but dead. When word gets out, and papers go missing, Robert is the suspect: after all, he survived and only traitors survived.

Lucinda is not quite as strong a character, but she is very likeable. She's forthright and sensible, not at all prone to do silly things, and she's very kind. Her calm presence is just what Robert needs. There really isn't anything to mark her as a memorable heroine, but she isn't foolish or dumb. She's nice.

The secondary characters, especially Robert's family and Lucinda's friends, are an excellent cast. They are individuals and play a good supporting role while not overpowering the main story. I haven't read the earlier books in this series, but I had no problem following the story in this one.

Now for the complaints: When I am really into a book I often don't notice typos, but there were a couple here that were bad, very bad. At one point Lucinda runs her hands through Robert's lanky hair. The word is lank, and it's not very complimentary to Robert's hair. Later, one of the men swears a mild oath, only he gets it wrong. He'd have said "ballocks" rather than "bullocks;" somehow swearing about cattle isn't very empathetic. And Lucinda thinks about "having sex," which is a rather modern expression, and she seemingly has no qualms at all about losing her virginity - not something a well-brought-up Regency miss would take lightly.

But I enjoyed England's Greatest Hero and plan to read more of Suzanne Enoch's backlist. There are more interesting characters in the Carroway family and I hope we see their stories in the future.

-- Ellen Micheletti

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