When I get into a "I really miss Trads" mood, I am thankful for all those years of glomming I did which resulted in hundreds of Trads on my Keeper Shelf and a good number in my TBR pile. The book I picked up to assuage my latest Trad Itch is Emma Lange's A Certain Reputation.
Rumors surround Anne de Montforte: she is a lightskirt who has slept her way through Italy before trapping Peter - a man with important, noble relations - into marriage while pregnant with another man's child, before eventually driving Peter to his death. Anne and her children have returned to England and she must now contend with her father-in-law's wish to make her five year old son, Alex, his heir. He has sent as his emissary his nephew, Peter's cousin, the Duke of Buckingham.
Trevelyan de Montforte is a cynical man, all too willing to believe the affidavits attesting to Anne's affairs provided to him by his uncle. However, he finds Anne not at all willing to relinquish her son for any price. They agree that before she turns down untold wealth and a life of ease for Alex that she should see what he would be missing and become better acquainted with the family. So Anne, her children and her maiden aunt leave their impoverished London flat and repair to Trev's ducal estate.
The wary strangers slowly become friends, at first through interactions with the children and then for their own sake's. Each have their own prejudices to overcome, as well as secrets to keep and tell. The sexual tension between Anne and Trev was very well done. A Trad can still sizzle, even with the bedroom door firmly closed, and this couple certainly do.
Lange writes emotion-packed character studies, and A Certain Reputation is a good example of her style. My favorite book of hers is The Irish Rake, but I haven't found one that wasn't worth the reading. If you haven't tried Emma Lange, seek her out on your next trip to the UBS. I think you'll be glad you did.
Reviewed by Cheryl Sneed, September 4, 2007