Friday, April 18, 2014

The Temptations of Anna Jacobs by Robyn DeHart

The Basics:
The Temptations of Anna Jacobs by Robyn DeHart
Book Two in the Dangerous Liasons series
Historical Romance
Published April 15, 2014
Source: Received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

Why I picked up this book:

I have a thing for the Ripper murders and all the hoopla surrounding them so a romance set against that backdrop intrigued me.


Love and justice…

When Drew Foster is released from prison, he doesn't much care about salvaging his soiled reputation. Though he's working undercover, everyone in Victorian London believes him guilty of the Jack the Ripper murders and that his brother paid for his "innocence."

Despite her genteel upbringing, Anna Jacobs is intent on finishing medical school and becoming a physician. Society's ridicule has never bothered her, but when her brother, the Yard's best detective, is scorned for letting Drew go, she confronts the one man who can set the record straight at a ball. She certainly doesn't count on the rogue being dashing and handsome, nor on him stealing a passionate kiss.

Anna's brazen contempt for his dangerous reputation captivates Drew, but he is harboring secrets that make him unfit to court any proper woman. As he finds himself an outsider among his colleagues at Scotland Yard, the feisty beauty offers up her medical knowledge to assist him on the case. But when the real killer returns to London to continue his reign of terror, can Anna find safety in Drew's arms?

My thoughts:

This book was an odd mixture of Ripper mystery and romance.

So I loved that Drew and Anna find each other, both armed with serious baggage. Anna's never had any success on the marriage market - in fact no one seems to be interested in her. Self-described as plump, as well as intelligent, opinionated and mouthy, Anna's given up on finding a husband to focus on her studies to become a doctor. Drew, for his part, believes himself to be unsuitable for marriage to any respectable young woman for reasons that the blurb keeps secret.

Up front, Drew struggles with alcohol addiction, and I found the inclusion of this addiction in the story to be quite worthwhile. He's spent time in prison, accused of the Ripper murders, and that allows him to dry out and address his issue with alcohol. I think this gave a weightiness to the book beyond the Ripper murders that made the romance feel deeper somehow.

I think Drew and Anna were a good match for each other, and I enjoyed the dance as they inched towards greater intimacies. I appreciated too that Drew didn't feel the need to protect Anna from the murders in terms of sharing information and getting her opinion.

Now, there are few bits and bobs throughout the book that felt a little anachronistic. I'm not sure that medical knowledge or faith in medical knowledge had advanced to the degree to which Anna and Drew address it in relation to the murders. Certainly, they're very CSI-y in some of the approach to the criminal investigation.

Really, the greater issue I had was with the juxtaposition of the brutality and gore of the Ripper murders and the burgeoning romance between Anna and Drew. The shift from details of the murders to details of their sexual intimacy was jarring to say the least. I don't know how else a book would address the Ripper murders - they were grisly at best - but I did find it a little unappetizing to confront that violence pages before or after moments of romance and intimacy.

Overall, I did enjoy the book. I would stay on board for a third - Simon's romance, I assume, will come next, along with the arrest of the Ripper? Also, I think the cover makes the book seem a little more... dour... than it really is. 

Bottom line:

Romantic, but with grisly details from real crime scenes. This book felt a little more hard-hitting than the average historical romance, and I enjoyed it even if it made me a little uncomfortable at times.

4 stars
For fans of historical romance, Ripper books, forward-thinking females and their families.

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