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The Lady's Secret by Joanna Chambers

The Lady's Secret

by Joanna Chambers

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An astonishing first novel. Ms Chambers takes one of the tinniest historical romance plots around -- the eligible but unattainable aristocrat bachelor and the mysterious ugly-duckling heroine -- and transmutes it into gold.

The conceit of the heroine masquerading as a gentleman's valet is original enough, but what makes this book so different is the quality of the writing, the meticulous attention to detail, the effortless characterisation.

In one of his encyclopaedic studies of human sexuality, Colin Wilson refers to a novel in which the male protagonist poses as a maid so that he can be near the object of his adoration and 'know' (in the non-Biblical sense) her in her most private and intimate moments, something far more precious than carnal knowledge.

Without spinning off into such abstract musings, Ms Chambers covers similar ground, giving tremendous psychological depth to the developing relationship between Georgy and Nathan.

The title of the book is, perhaps deliberately, a distractor. The book is not about one bodice-ripping secret, but about a profusion of secrets, great and small, related and unrelated. Romance novels don't get any better than this.

Halfway through [b:The Lady's Secret|12795944|The Lady's Secret|Joanna Chambers|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1319379911s/12795944.jpg|17944056] I knew I was going to re-read it at least once. I haven't experienced that reaction very often; maybe only two or three times in as many years.

( )
  skirret | Jan 2, 2015 |
A rough start (too much "explaining the trope"), but once I got a few chapters in I couldn't put it down. An interesting hero/heroine dynamic, very well done. ( )
  Capnrandm | Apr 15, 2013 |
The first half of THE LADY'S SECRET was perfect. I was almost breathless, reading it, thinking I might have stumbled upon a new all-time favorite. I love these girl-dressing-as-a-boy books and Joanna Chambers pulled off this plot point better than any other example I've read. She draws out the fun of it for exactly the right length, mining the strange intimacy of the lord-valet relationship for its latent eroticism, writing scenes of Georgy bringing Nathan his breakfast tray or administering his morning shave in a way that made my toes curl.

Nathan discovers Georgy's true gender and discovers that she's got a dangerous secret around the same time. That signals a new, also delicious phase of the story: Georgy doesn't realize that the game is up but she can tell something has changed and she's jumpy, unnerved. The sexual tension between them is so thick you could cut it with a knife.

This whole first half of the book is so fun. Twisty and turny, with little clues and revelations popping up that change the direction of the story, and the two main characters slowly drawing closer to one another while circumstances keep them worlds apart.

Things start to go wrong once everything is out in the open. Georgy and Nathan jump from intense sexual tension to intense emotional attachment much, much too fast. After such a slow, exquisite build of physical attraction, I was disappointed not to see similar effort invested into building mental and emotional bonds.

And then the story, which had been so unique and delightful, descended into a mire of predictability. It's hard to explain what made the earlier, essentially predictable events so perfect (I mean, Nathan had to figure out Georgy's sex eventually...) and the later ones so disappointing (dismissing an assassin as an invisible poacher was particularly sigh-inducing) but it happened. I'm sure the switch to an action-driven story at the expense of real emotional development or nuance is part of it.

The latter section of the book wasn't bad. It just wasn't as wonderful and delightful as the first half. It didn't have the same spark. The first half was a five star book; the second half a three star. Meet in the middle with four. ( )
  MlleEhreen | Apr 3, 2013 |
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Former actress Georgiana Knight always believed she and her brother were illegitimate until they learn their parents were married, making them heirs to a great estate. To prove their claim, Georgy needs to find evidence of their union by infiltrating a ton house party as valet to Lord Nathaniel Harland. Though masquerading as a boy is a challenge, it pales in comparison to sharing such intimate quarters with the handsome, beguiling nobleman. Nathan is also unsettled by Georgy's presence. First intrigued by his unusual valet, he's even more captivated when he discovers Georgy's charade. The desire the marriage-shy earl feels for his enigmatic employee has him hoping for much more than a master-servant relationship...… (more)

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