The Mad Lord's Daughter

Jane Goodger
The Mad Lord's Daughter
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Publisher
Zebra
Release Date
August 2012
ISBN
9781420111521
Genre
Historical Romance

SUMMARY
Locked away by her reclusive and intensely protective father, the recently deceased "Mad Lord of Northumberland," Melissa is beautiful and educated but painfully naïve about the real world-and the dark secrets of her birth. Now in the care of her uncle, the Earl of Braddock, she must prepare to enter London society and find a proper husband, a task that grows complicated when she falls for the one man she can never have. Just as a promising new life begins to eclipse her tragic past, she'll find herself consumed by a forbidden love that could destroy it all…

Book Review by Bridget (reviewer)
Sep 10, 2012   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
123 people found the following review helpful
In a very short time, I have become a huge fan of Jane Goodger's characters and her stories, and this book was just the kind of surprising, emotional story that I have come to love. With original scenarios and unexpected, complex characters, this book is a treat to read, and one I didn't want to put down until the very end.

Though very well-educated and well-cared for, Melissa Atwell has not set foot outside her house in eighteen years. Her father, the Mad Lord of Northumberland', was convinced that contact with the world, indeed, physical contact of any kind, would expose his girl to disease and kill her. Thus, when he dies, leaving Melissa in the care of an uncle she has never met, she is not only bereft by her loss, but also is nearly overwhelmed by the challenges she faces stepping out of her rooms and into the wide world outside.

George Atwell, Earl of Braddock, and his son John are utterly overwhelmed by the reality of Melissa's life and the daunting task that lies before them. Not only must she be introduced to society, but no one must know the real circumstances of her birth. For Melissa is a bastard, adopted by the man she knew as her father. Which means that Melissa must be trained to enter society and married as soon as possibleeven if it is to a man she hardly knows. Because the man she loves passionately is the man responsible for finding her a husband, and the one man she can never have.

It is true that Melissa is remarkably adaptable, and adjusts with an unlikely ease to her new surroundings and expectations. Though we are reminded that she had tutors and books at her disposal, I was very surprised at how quickly she grew accustomed to all the elements of her new life. That being said, her first experiencesfrom standing in a snowstorm to meeting her first petwere beautifully captured and some of the most memorable moments in this book. I also really appreciated the fact that though she was sheltered, Melissa was intelligent and perceptive, and independent enough to fend for herself. It made her accomplishments and the struggles we were allowed to see that much more emotional.

For his part, John was a surprisingly steady character, without demons or a terribly tortuous past. However, his honesty and straightforward nature made him a perfect match for Melissa, and his pain over their forbidden attraction provided the test his character needed to make him a worthy hero. I was thrilled at how he (and Melissa) overcame the challenges to being together. So often, stories and characters overcomplicate a situation like theirs, but this was done simply, sweetly, and felt perfect for the tone of the rest of the book.

Melissa's appointed tutor is Lady Diane, whom readers will remember from Jane Goodger's earlier book When a Duke Says I Do. Diane has suffered more than her fair share of heartache and painful shocks over the years, and though not very old by any means, she is convinced that love has wholly passed her by. I was intrigued by Diane's spirited personality and the quick, savagely witty mind that she hid behind that placid exterior. Getting a chance to see her again was a treat, and watching her story unfold in this book was sensational. Diane's story is a perfect counterpoint to Melissa's journey with John, and most certainly proof that the course of true love never does run smoothbut sometimes is all the better for it.

The crisis of the story and the resolution did feel rushed, and I'm not sure all my questions about Melissa's past were thoroughly answered, but the focus of this book was about Melissa breaking free of her past and learning to live life on her own terms. In this sense, the ending was a complete success. In addition, the scene where John tries to confront Melissa's father was so surprising, and done with such subtle implications and hints, that it made up for a great deal of my disappointment over the hasty conclusion. I am hoping we see more of Melissa and John (as well as the Earl and Diana) in future books, as all of them have fascinating journeys ahead of them, and I want to be there to enjoy them all!
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