Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Lord Next Door by Gayle Callen

Title: The Lord Next Door
Author: Gayle Callen

Type: Historical Romance
Published: 2005

Blurb: To rescue her family from financial ruin, lovely Victoria Shelby has no choice but to marry. Her options for a bridegroom are limited . . . until she remembers the shy servant boy next door. Then she discovers that her childhood friend is actually Viscount Thurlow -- ruthless businessman, future earl, and a man whose family is shrouded in scandal!

After two rejected marriage proposals, David Thurlow needs a wife who will give him an heir, someone who will not only overlook his past but also be above reproach. Victoria is the ideal candidate -- quiet, unassuming, and in desperate need of funds. But even as she strives to be the perfect wife, her calm demeanor masks a shocking secret . . . one that is overshadowed by David's slow, heated lessons in the art of seduction that threaten to transform a "convenient" marriage into a torrid and passionate affair.

Why: Callen is an author on my TBR list as a result of blogger reviews. There are several titles I've listed under her name and Lori graciously sent me a couple of them. This was my first.

Thoughts: Slow and easy. Just a gentle, simple romance through and through. And for the most part, I enjoyed that about it. It really was all about the growing relationship between David and Victoria. I appreciated that focus. I appreciated Callen's single-mindedness, her continuity and her voice. I also appreciated the story's pace--it never seemed to lag.

By all rights, this should have been a very engaging book for me. Unfortunately, despite its appealing focus, voice and pace, there was simply no "grab" for me. No hook that compelled me to "get back to my book" every chance I could. Know what I mean?

I can't say I was bored, because again, Callen's pacing was topnotch. Nor can I say that I didn't want to finish it. I did. It just took me far too long, IMO, because the story and its characters didn't call to me when I was busy doing other things.

And that is probably it, right there. In the characters. I wasn't vested. Interested, yes. Callen's characterization is not weak by any means. But they do live and think within societal confines, measuring their own fathers by society's standards and expending a lot of energy to appear themselves as society dictates. And that made them less believable for me. For two reasons. One, neither appeared all that critical of societal expectations. And two, their adherence to society's rules felt downright pollyanna at times. David's firm dismissal of his mistress upon marrying, for example. And Victoria's determination to see father and son reconciled. Both actions show the reader an attempt--on each's part--to be a good, respectful and loving spouse. But phrased or presented as duty or appearance, they fell flat. For me. In my mind, I wondered at his sex drive and found her meddlesome. Not what Callen was aiming for, I'm sure.

Still, I continued reading and was content to read it through to the end. I guess I looked at it as both an overdue return to historical romance and a break from the dark and gritty stories I've been picking over all others. I was ultimately pleased with Callen's HEA for these two and actually look forward to the next one--The Viscount In My Bedroom. If the characters there pack more punch, then Callen will be a good addition to my reading lists. Like I said, everything else is there--prose, pace, and even romance, albeit a tad tipid.

One more thing. Lame as it is--and probably a trend that grates on your last nerve, but--I cannot sign off from this review without this qualifier. My reading mojo is adrift and my life is presently a warzone with daily "busy versus balanced" battles. I think I'm winning the war and, today, am actually feeling excitement over my next handful of reads. Progress. But in all fairness to Callen, I'll go ahead and admit to a bit of the "it's me, not you" syndrome.

Word on the Web:

Where's My Hero - Didn't care for it.

Pearl's World Of Books - Not good, but not awful.

Ok, I didn't think it was that bad.


  1. As I read this, my first thought was... you've been reading far too many dark paranormals.

    And yup... you confirmed it. I guess I looked at it as both an overdue return to historical romance and a break from the dark and gritty stories I've been picking over all others.

    Start reading some happy stuff, dammit, LOL!! Pollyanna can be good sometimes.

    And if you don't like The Viscount in Her Bedroom, I an ending it all. Just sayin.

  2. You know me so well, LMAO! Yup, I've have been in a "dark" phase for some time...but hey, I'm back to regular church attendance and did say I would read The Viscount next (after Dark of Night). *g*

    Moving toward the light...

  3. It's been a while since I read this but I think I enjoyed it. Callan is an auto-buy for me.

    What Lori said, read some happy stuff! LOL


Have you read it? What do you think?

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