Review: The Captain's Bluestocking Mistress by Erica Ridley

Saturday, March 7, 2015
Title: The Captain's Bluestocking Mistress
Author: Erica Ridley
Genre: romance, historical
Series: The Dukes of War #2
Pages: 250
Published: March 2, 2015
Source: publisher via Netgalley
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Captain Xavier Grey’s body is back amongst the Beau Monde, but his mind cannot break free from the horrors of war. His friends try to help him find peace. He knows he doesn’t deserve it. Just like he doesn't deserve the attentions of the sultry bluestocking intent on seducing him into bed...

Spinster Jane Downing wants off the shelf and into the arms of a hot-blooded man. Specifically, the dark and dangerous Captain Grey. She may not be destined to be his wife, but nothing will stop her from being his mistress. She could quote classical Greek by the age of four. How hard can it be to learn the language of love?

I generally take exception to bluestocking romances, which so frequently characterize the phenomena as “brunette who reads because she’s shy”, instead of an informal movement with roots in feminism and politics. So imagine my surprise, while Jane never states she attends Blue Stocking Society events, she is educated, articulate, and very modern. And when I say modern, I mean she can rescite the Odyssey from memory while reading a forbidden erotic novel.

Yet Jane’s utterly forgettable. No matter how shocking she is, how witty or outrageous, she can’t get off the shelf. Men look right past her, reintroducing themselves year after year. She’s given up looking for marriage, but sex might still be on the table, particularly with a handsome, discrete Captain just returned from the Napoleonic Wars. Taking advantage of her unmemorableness, Jane takes a huge risk and shows up unannounced and unescorted to Xavier’s cottage.

As with a lot of snowbound romances, it just so happens the staff is all out when she arrives! Xavier, fearing for Jane’s reputation, tries to send her away, but the terrible weather has other ideas. Trapped together, Jane throws herself at Xavier and, well you know. He declines.

Wait, wha?

Xavier refuses to defile a lady, feeling he did enough horrible things in the war. His PTSD is pretty well written, though it’s a little mild considering the character was practically catatonic with guilt in the first book. I found him a bit condescending towards Jane and her feelings at first, but the way he comes around was really nice.

I really like the way the romance played out, especially the scene in the library and the card game. I thought the characters had chemistry and I cared about them getting together. There’s a good amount of humor, including a devil-possessed cat, mixed with the heart. On the negative side, there were some odd word choices, including Xavier swearing to Zeus, which was confusing and a little distracting. The real issue is, apart from a few scenes mentioned above, the book is a little like Jane. Forgettable.

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