Lord of Fire and Lord of Ice, both by Gaelen Foley, were published in consecutive months (January and February) and feature twin brothers as heroes.
Lord Lucien Knight, Foley's Lord of Fire, is seemingly a rogue who indulges in the worst of perversions. He blackmails virginal Alice Montague into residing at his country estate for a week. During that week Alice discovers that there is a lot more to Lucien then the world knows and that he is actually a spy working for the crown. Lucien needs Alice to save him from the darkness of his mission and she needs him to free her true spirit.
Foley's Lord of Ice is Damien Knight, the Earl of Winterley, a hero who has returned from the Napoleonic wars psychologically scarred. After the murder of a friend, he is forced to leave his lonely sanctuary to escort Miranda FitzHubert to London. Miranda is now his ward and Damien is determined to marry her off as quickly as possible so he can return to his lonely estate where he feels safe. Miranda immediately falls in love with Damien and now has to prove to him that her love can heal his wounds.
Blythe: I found both books to be surprisingly quick reads. I much preferred Lord of Fire, in no small part because I connected with the hero and heroine. Lord of Ice was more "so-so" for me. I had no problem turning the pages, but I wasn't as interested in the characters or their story. What did you think, Linda?
Linda: I honestly can't decide which book I like better. I loved Lucien, and Alice was a terrific match for him. I also enjoyed his role in Damien's courtship. But, I love those tortured heroes and from our first glimpse of Damien in Lord of Fire it is obvious this man is really hurting.
Blythe: Well, I preferred Damien to Miranda, who just seemed a little young and flighty to me, especially at first. What initially appealed to me about Damien is that even though he was a war hero, no one would really have called him virtuous. He makes no secret of his enjoyment of prostitutes (in fact we "hear" him thinking that his brother's wife is a little dull because she's so "good"). He had this "hey, baby!" sort of sensuality that I found kind of cute, even though in real life it would be annoying. But Miranda just seemed so clueless, at first, that I found it difficult to warm up to her.
Linda: I thought it made sense that Miranda was young and naive as a result of having spent her life in the Yardley School for Girls. Of course some of her experiences there were nasty enough to keep her from completely trusting anyone. But, her determined rescue of Amy proved her to be my type of heroine - smart enough to know when to tell Damien the truth, yet willing to risk much for the safety of a small girl. If I hadn't already loved Damien, his performance at the school would have clinched it.
The fun thing is that these two books are as different as the twins are. Lucien is seemingly a bad boy and needs Alice's lightness to save him. Damien seems more stable, but actually is needier then Lucien, and Miranda was his salvation too.
Blythe: Lucien was compelling to me from the beginning. The plots of both stories are fairly familiar; we've seen plenty of wounded war vets (with physical and mental wounds), Hellfire Club type groups, and scheming relatives. But the characters made the stories seem fresh to me. I enjoyed Alice and Lucien's first meeting, which takes place during what can only be called an orgy. Like LLB, I'm not sure I bought into the concept that an orgy was the number one best place to make spy contacts, but I was more willing than she to go with that. <g> It's really Alice who carries the whole thing off. She's fascinated, attracted, disgusted and repelled - all at once. She is irresistibly drawn toward Lucien, even though she knows staying in his home is a horrible idea.
Linda: I loved Alice's reaction to the orgy and the glimpse of Lucien as Draco was very compelling. Alice is a wonderful character, although I wanted to kick her when Lucien risked his heart and talked to her and she stomped on it. But, I forgave her when she had the decency to go to him and apologize and trust him. They are a wonderful pair. This was my second read of Lord of Fire and I enjoyed it just as much the second time - the sign of a true keeper:)
I found Miranda lots of fun. As you say, the stories have been told before, but because of the complex and likable characters these two books became instant keepers for me. I also enjoyed the first book in the series, The Duke. I'm glad that this is a very large family. I have a hunch that the mysterious Tom Blade is to be paired with Lady Jacinda and I am totally intrigued.
Blythe: I haven't read The Duke, and although the apparent storyline (man marrying his mistress) is not one I usually care for, I'd be willing to try it because I really did enjoy Lord of Fire. I agree the set up seems to be leaning toward a match between Jacinda and the Seven Dials outlaw (is it my imagination, or are Seven Dials outlaws suddenly popping up in every book?).
While I didn't mind the obvious set up for the next story, I did think that the ending of Lord of Ice went on too long. It should have simply ended when Miranda and Damien married, but we get what amounts to a double epilogue as...
...Damien heads off for war again, and then Miranda has a baby. I think we could have lost about 25 pages without really missing anything.
Linda: It was in this section of the book that Foley came perilously close to the dreaded "big misunderstanding" and "long separation," but then she had Miranda, with Lucien's help, come to her senses. I really enjoyed the Waterloo battle part of the story. The epilogue wasn't necessary, but I enjoyed it nonetheless, it left me with a smile on my face and that is the mark of a true HEA.
I am assuming future books will pair Alec with the shy Lizzie Carlisle - which should be fun. But, Tom Blade was very intriguing, and obviously from Lucien's remarks not the outlaw he seems. Then there is the mysterious black sheep of the family, Lord Jack, not to mention Griff, Damien's friend. As I said, I'm overjoyed that this is a big family. Based on the three books in this series I can safely say that Foley is now an autobuy for me. I have even glommed her backlist. <g>
Blythe: Do you suppose "Lizzie Carlisle" is named after romance novelist Liz Carlyle? I found myself wondering if she and Foley are friends.
But let's talk about the sensuality of these books. I think both can be classified as hot, and they also skirt the edge of purple. At one point Foley even calls eyes "orbs," a term that always makes me roll my . . .orbs. I couldn't quite decide if it was too purple, or just purple enough to work. There is a scene in Lord of Ice involving fellatio (easily the most descriptive such scene I have read in a romance, or anywhere, for that matter). It was interesting and erotic, but when I got to the part where "he exploded in her mouth, a sumptuous feast of virility" and heard the, er, "product" called "his warrior's potency," I had to suppress a chuckle.
Linda: Yes, that made me grin too. But, there was one scene I don't remember reading before - when Lucien was pleasuring Alice and with his "other hand he was pleasuring himself." I guess he was making himself ready, but I don't remember reading that one before.
These are defenitely two very sexual men, but what ultimately made them work was their emotional vulnerability and need for love. These are men who are surrounded by family and yet were never part of the family. We haven't discussed their unusual family tree: the twins' mother, Georgiana, was married to the Duke of Hawkscliffe and bore him two children, Robert and Jacinda. Her other children - Lucien, Damien, Alec and Jack - were by various lovers but all accepted legally by her husband. She is based on a real regency era lady whose cuckolded hubby accepted her bastards to avoid scandal. But the twins received love from neither their legal father nor their selfish mother. This gave them a vulnerability that grabbed me emotionally from the beginning of the books.
Blythe: Yeah, that "pleasuring himself" was a quick line in there, but I confess I noticed that too. Foley definitely seems to belong to the "spectacularly beautiful" hero and heroine school. Both the twins and their spouses are so drop-dead gorgeous that women swoon and strong men cry in envy. But I think their unusual background (I certainly wouldn't want my mom to have a nickname like "The Hawkscliffe Harlot") humanizes them. And cold though she may have been to her children; she certainly does sound interesting.
Linda: I read something about the real woman behind this story recently and it was quite fascinating.
Foley's writing reminded me of the best of Garwood's Regency-set historicals and my favorite Amanda Quick romances. The dialogue sparkles, humor is present and, best of all, amidst all of the spy, war and murder action the love story stays front-and-center. The people may be gorgeous, but they are also likable. It's great to find a new regency-set historical autobuy ias Garwood seems to have deserted it for contemporary romantic suspense.
Am I wrong or is this several months in a row we have both liked the books? Amazing! I think we have a total change of pace for next month don't we?
Blythe: We actually split on Lord of Ice, which I didn't care for as well as I enjoyed Lord of Fire. But other than that, I believe we have actually agreed for at least three months now.
Next month is a change of pace; we are reading Rachel Gibson'sLola Carlyle Reveals All. I really enjoyed her second book, Truly, Madly Yours, and although her last one didn't really do it for me I have high hopes for this one.
Linda: I have heard nothing but good things about Gibson's humor and have some of her backlist in my TBR pile So hopefully I will like this one well enough to move them to the top.
See you next month.
Order Lord of Fire from Amazon Books
Order Lord of Ice from Amazon Books
--Blythe Barnhill and Linda Hurst, for
-- Pandora's Box
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