THE GREATEST LOVER EVER
Author: Christina Brooke
Michael Joseph RRP $24.99
Review: Monique Mulligan
Lighthearted and escapist romantic fun – that’s how I’d describe The Greatest Lover Ever by Christina Brooke. I picked up the book after a graphic crime read and it was the perfect antidote to the darkness that book contained. Brooke is a new author to me, but it’s clear she has a fine grasp of how to create enough romantic conflict, chemistry and heat to fan the flames of any romance lover; The Greatest Lover Ever pits two stubborn but devastatingly attractive leads together in a romantic duel that leaves readers wanting the couple to stop the dance and just … kiss!
Set in the Regency era, the story opens when beautiful red-headed Georgiana Black fires off an ultimatum to her fiance, the Earl of Beckenham, that leads to the end of their engagement. For six years, the two hotheads avoid each other until they meet by chance at a party and passions are set aflame once more. Scandal would ensue if their encounter was discovered, so Georgiana resolves to ignore it; Beckenham has other ideas – even though he had sworn to find a ‘biddable woman’ to make his wife, he knows the proper thing to do is propose marriage to the woman he put in a compromising position. Besides, their meeting has reminded him how desirable Georgiana is, just as she once again finds him irresistible. When Georgina refuses his hand, the dance is on, despite their plans and those of their family and peers … and despite how maddeningly attractive they find each other.
The story is lightly reminiscent of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice in terms of the period, the mothers hellbent on finding wealthy husbands for their daughters (because every man with wealth must be in want of a wife, right?), the passionate but proud leads and the (possibly wayward) younger sister storyline. Of course, the passion in the classic is buried under words and smouldering looks, while in The Greatest Lover Ever the passion leaps off the page as the two kiss and fondle and … pull away, leaving the reader almost as breathless as the lusty couple. Almost. The conflict and chemistry is plausible and builds well as the characters step around each other in their battle of wills; the reader is caught up in the tension, wondering if the two will ever let go of their pride and admit their true feelings. They’re both infuriatingly pig-headed at times, but also show enough heart, integrity and decency to make them most likeable.
A fun read, more steamy than sweet, I’d recommend The Greatest Lover Ever for lovers of historical romance and escapism. Well-written with an entertaining storyline and characters, it oozes with heat, wit and charm, and I found it hard to put down. Note that the title, though it seems a bit lame, is explained towards the end … and the ‘lameness’ turns out to be intentional and sweetly funny, as well as the reason Georgiana thinks she must stay away from Beckenham (no, that’s not a spoiler). I’ll be keeping an eye out for more books from this author in the future.
Available from good bookstores and Penguin Books Australia. This copy was courtesy of Penguin.
Bookish treat: I was trying to think of something clever and churros popped into my head. Sugar and spice, best enjoyed while hot?