The Making of a Gentleman by Shana Galen
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Paperback, 384 pages
Book Source: Danielle from Sourcebooks
My Rating: 90/100
(My review of Book 1)
From the Publisher:
Equal parts action and passion, this second in a Regency romance trilogy by acclaimed author Shana Galen features the gorgeous but traumatized Comte de Valère... Twelve years in a French prison have left the once dashing Armand Harcourt, Comte de Valere a hollow shell of his former self. Though safely back on English soil, Armand remains locked in a prison of his mind, unable to interact with the glittering social world that was his rightful place. When his family hires the beautiful and determined Felicity Bennett to teach Armand, he is shaken by the onslaught of desire Felicity awakens in him. As Felicity slowly helps reclaim Armand, their passion begins to blossom into a transcendent love capable of healing the scars of both their pasts.
This is the second in Galen's trilogy about three French aristocratic brothers who escape their burning chateau in the middle of the night during the French Revolution, and manage to find each other 12 years later. The first book was about the oldest brother Julien and his obviously successful search for his younger brother Armand. Each book has a fairytale element and the one referenced here is obviously Beauty and the Beast. From years of torture and desperate living, Armand has lost his capacity to speak. It was safer to be a mute in Revolutionary France, because you couldn't rat anyone out, if you you couldn't speak. Therefore, Armand played the part of a mute. Although it saved him from being outed as an "aristo", it proved to be his eventual downfall, leading him to be imprisoned and forgotten about.
Julien breaks Armand out of prison, and brings him back to England. Armand can not speak, does not like to wear shoes, and must be re-taught everything about polite society. From his years spent in prison being neglected, Armand abhors being indoors, and can not stand to be touched by others. Being touched means you are about to be hurt, like beaten. In steps Felicity Bennett, hired as a governess to reacquaint Armand with the rules of society and general living.
There is something about Felicity that speaks to Armand, besides her beautiful piano playing which soothes the upset and savage Armand. Armand finds her angelic and quickly falls in love with her. This was believable given Armand's history and issues. Felicity is from the country and she is quite innocent, plus who could ignore a really beautiful man even if he grunts and is bare foot most of the time. For all of his animalistic behavior, there is a gentleness and a sweetness to Armand. If only he could speak!
Of course Armand brought some baggage with him from France, and this element provides a bit of mystery, adventure, and suspense in the story. Who are those creepy people hanging about outside the house? What do they want? Armand knows, and he wants to protect his family, including pretty little Felicity. Speaking of which, Felicity also has skeletons in her closet that spice up the story. Lets just say that no one messes with the de Valeres or their friends.
The only thing I didn't like about the story was Felicity. Sometimes I liked her, and sometimes I just wanted to slap her for being silly. She was not as strong minded as Sarah, Julien's wife, who I adored. There were situations where Felicity was surprised to find herself in, and I would just shake my head. Is she that silly because she was born and raised in the country? Although, it's that innocence and sweetness that Armand finds so beguiling. So I guess she can be forgiven for her faults. But I'm still not crazy about her.
Oh and the other thing I disliked was how haughty Julien was portrayed. But again, to outsiders who don't know his story, that could be how his behavior is perceived. I liked him in The Making of a Duchess, but not in this installment.
Overall I liked this story, even though the whole Beast thing doesn't usually appeal to me. Disney cartoons are different. Now I am excitedly awaiting the third and final installment of the trilogy. The one about Captain Cutless, that mysterious pirate who roams the Channel striking fear into the hearts of men, and probably striking lust into the hearts of women. Just a guess :)
For more information about Shana Galen and her books, please visit her website.
Thanks to Danielle from Sourcebooks for my ARC.
2010 Challenges Met: 100+, Historical Fiction, Reading Romance
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