Elizabeth Boyle has combined her two series, “The Bachelor Chronicles” and “The Sterling Widows,” into Lord Langley is Back in Town. Lord Langley has been a supporting character in her “Bachelor Chronicles” but never actually made an appearance. He makes quite the grand entrance here, if I do say so myself.
Three years ago, rumors started to fly that Langley had turned into a traitor. Before he could find out who was setting him up, he was attacked and all in England believed him to be dead. Really, he was in a French prison with a slight case of amnesia; he has no memory of the attack or the days before. Once he was able to escape and get back to England, this made proving his innocence difficult. Lord Langley's daughter just happens to own a townhouse that provides a perfect hiding place in the attic. The fact that the house is currently occupied by Minerva means nothing to him.
Without going into the many backstories and secondary plotlines for this book, the main plot revolved around Langley and Minerva attempting to clear his name. Minerva is just trying to get Langley out of her life so she can get back to a normal life. Being thrown together into a faux engagement, and in their mutual desire to solve the mystery, they both start to have feelings for one another. Minerva is faced with Langley's overwhelming past experience, having four of his previous paramours living in her house and a fifth that visits from time to time. His former lovers provide much comic relief throughout the story and are commonly referred to as the "nannies." None are nannies in the slightest, but were given the term when Langley's daughters were younger and saw much of the women in his life.
Lord Langley was supposed to be this super spy, but Minerva was constantly outsmarting him or thinking of solutions before he could. It was the bumbling spy with the beautiful sidekick except he happened to be handsome too. He's supposedly stealth personified but the whole plot is based on him falling into Minerva's room and then tripping on something and falling on top of her.
Here was this man who, as a spy, slept his way across Europe and now he's come back to clear his name. Never once, does he explain his actions or get called on the carpet about them. The women are living in this house together and all supposed to be vying for his attention but don't seem to care that he has all these other lovers around the continent. I couldn't enjoy a hero that didn't redeem his past peccadilloes, I needed some regret. Because of that, I never believed that Langley actually fell in love with Minerva. He was a rake that was never reformed.
Knowing the connections between the characters can sometimes be integral in a book, especially in a series that you are coming to late. I understand the basic concept of a family tree in the front of the book. I can even see that since there were two series converging in this book, that the two family trees included in the front of this book, could have been useful. But to have two family trees and then a cast of characters was not only redundant, but confusing. Before I read the book, I was already aware of who all the villians were. And while most of them were revealed early in the story there was one that was only vaguely alluded to but not revealed until the end. Except, we already knew because of the cast of characters. What it ended up feeling like to me, was that the author knew she was writing too many characters into the book. If you're doing that, you probably need to thin the characters down.
There were many small storylines interwoven into this story that really didn't have anything to do with the plot, making it difficult to be interested in any of them. The conflicts that were present were forced and resolved with easy coincidences and convenient timing. How many times someone can show up at the exact right moment?
I walk away from this story thinking that really all Ms. Boyle wanted was to write about the nannies. While the nannies provided some fantastic comedic relief in the book, I wasn't reading the nannies' stories but maybe I should have been.