Title: Secrets for Seducing a Royal Bodyguard
Author: Vanessa Kelly
Overall, an average book because it squandered its potential. Clearly, this author has read and followed all of the advice about making the first 5 pages sing. The opening was amazing, but the rest of the story didn’t live up to it.
One of the Prince Regent’s bastards ends up becoming a strong and very capable spy for the English Home office. While he’s home after the war and waiting for his next assignment, he is sent out to rescue the heroine who was abducted from her coach on her way home from a ball.
The beginning of the story is amazing. The suspense as Aden St. George rescues Vivien is riveting. Sneaking through the night, Aden’s skills, the pursuit by the bad guys. All of it is fabulous.
But this book should’ve either been a novella or the author needed to inject a great deal more into the plot to keep the promise the opening of the book makes.
Vivien – is the heroine, and I liked her well enough. She excels at cards, and that’s how she keeps her mother and younger brother from financial ruin as neither can live within their means. She does some dumb things from time to time, but nothing that annoyed me too much. While she is trying to keep her family out of ruin, she is also trying to avoid the unwanted advances of a Russian prince that doesn’t take “no” for an answer.
She doesn’t seem to be striving for much other than keeping her family out of trouble, but that’s a full time job.
Aden St. George – is the hero. I loved him in the opening of the story, but I was doing nothing but roll my eyes at him by the end.
I get being a bastard son sucked. Somehow his mother’s husband found out he wasn’t his son and made Edmund’s life miserable. No idea how he knew, but okay, there was a way. And I can see men like that. And I can get the emotional scars that leaves behind. But then deal with them in the story. Make us love him and see him struggle to overcome them. Or make him strong enough that he has overcome them after years of service to his country as a spy.
Instead, he abandons the heroine because of his “feelings”. He also gives into these feelings and then pulls back from the heroine to “protect her” only to give in again. Ugh! I would have MUCH rather seen a character arc for him rather than all the back and forth nonsense.
It may be how someone would really react to such childhood emotional trauma, but it doesn’t make him a good lead in this story. Especially as he’s supposed to be all bad-boy spy. Kills people. Seen people die. He’s all bad-ass because he’s walled over his feelings. Coming out of self-imposed emotional anesthesia and finding love and family can make a fabulous story, but that story wasn’t in this book.
- The Heroine’s mother and brother (Kit) are idiots. The mother is the “hysterical” female that spends too much money and is prone to fits. *eye roll* Maybe that was a real thing back then, but I hate them as characters. Her younger brother was only a little better.
- The heroine’s older brother, Cyrus, has no redeeming qualities. He’s a villain through and through. Which is unfortunate, as I think there could’ve been a lot of depth there as to why he was doing what he was doing. Making him more sympathetic and possibly even adding to the tension.
- The Russian Prince should have a mustache to twirl. No redeeming qualities, up to and including dental hygiene.
- The hero’s mother was amazing.
- Sir Dominic, the hero’s mentor, was pretty good. Wish the hero would’ve been as strong as Dominic
After effecting Vivien’s rescue, Sir Dominic orders his spy, Aden, to keep an eye on her and keep her safe. To do this, he has him escort his mother through the ton and all of the balls etc. You know, the normal Regency bit.
While this is happening, Vivien is trying to win enough money at cards to get her brother out of the financial trouble he’s in. Again. This causes her to take some unacceptable risks, especially as someone is trying to kidnap her.
There is the back and forth between the characters as the hero pries the information about her brothers, her suitors, and the Russian prince out the heroine.
The whole middle of the story is rather ho hum, up to and including the second kidnapping attempt that the hero does manage to thwart.
Then it’s off to the countryside for a while, and things get steamy between the characters on their way to the safe house. They open up to each other and have sex at an inn, only for the hero to pull back from the heroine once they get to the safe house. Huh? What?
Now he has feelings. Oh my. Eventually, those feelings come out and he makes love to her again. Only to flee back to London because of those feelings just in time for her kidnappers to come get her. *eye roll*
He finally figures out he’s “worthy” to love her and be loved even if he was born a bastard, and he comes to her rescue with some really firm words . . . Um, yeah. Where was the cool, kick-ass spy from the beginning?
The plot was pretty threadbare. I really wanted the hero to do things. To be the powerful alpha hero he was in the beginning and run her abductor to ground. Or whisk her off of his own accord so he can protect her rather than being forced to do so by mentor. And then abandoning her anyway. Instead of doing stuff, the hero spent a lot of time denying his emotions, finding himself unworthy, and trying to find a way out of protecting the heroine.
This book could’ve been fabulous, but because of a threadbare plot and lacking hero, it was just another average read.
How to Make it Five Stars
To get to five stars, I’d need a couple of things.
1. Give me the hero from the beginning of the story through the whole story. Make him amazing at what he does, and what he does is serve the crown protecting Vivien. Give me that tight writing and emotional suspense. Show me the hero’s competence through the whole story.
2. Give the hero a much better character arc. Let’s see his progression from unwilling to feel emotion to being in love with the heroine.
3. Once the hero arc is resolved, let the outside bad guys propel the story forward. This would require more than the threadbare plot there is, but a little creativity can give the baddies a host of reasons for going after the heroine.