A Reckless Desire (Breconridge Brothers) by Isabella Bradford
Rating: Very Good
Description: For fans of Julia Quinn, Eloisa James, and Sabrina Jeffries: the elegantly seductive third historical romance in Isabella Bradford's Breconridge Brothers trilogy. Lord Rivers Fitzroy is as charming and sought after as his rakish elder brothers, though he immerses himself more in dusty books and scholarly pursuits than in bawdy houses. Yet, hell-bent on making the most of his remaining bachelorhood now that his father insists he marry, Rivers becomes the favorite of a troupe of Italian dancers. One night, after a performance, the handsome lord is challenged with a most provocative wager: Turn the players' meek and mousy cousin into the first lady of the London stage. But Lucia di Rossi is not what seems. Scorned by the rest of her family, Lucia longs for the respect and stardom of a great actress. River's wager could be the answer to all her hopes- so long as he understands that she wants to be an actress, not his mistress. The two commence her metamorphosis in earnest - even as passion begins to take center stage. As Lucia's dreams come true, she fears that it may be Rivers, not she, who is the master performer. Is he only making her believe he cares? Has she found the spotlight only to lose her heart - or will the final curtain reveal a love strong enough to last? (from Goodreads)
Genre: Romance - Historical
Why I Picked This Book: I read the 2nd book in this series and enjoyed it so I was excited to read this one about the youngest brother.
My Impression: Last year, when I read Bradford's A Sinful Deception, I was surprised with how unique it was. This series takes place a little earlier than most of the historical romances I read - around the end of the 1700s - and Bradford really makes class distinctions and social issues into her stories. That was definitely the case in this book. I really enjoyed the My Fair Lady plot line where the very proper Lord Rivers takes the street urchin with no education and no breeding and transforms her. But this is not a fun romp -I feel like the reference to Julia Quinn in the blurb is inaccurate. The reference to James and Jeffries is probably much closer.
I really enjoyed this book and felt like it was different than any historical I have read before. There was a definite awareness of the class difference on Lucia's part and she really struggled in the beginning with how to act around Rivers. There are a lot of little misunderstandings but not for the usual reason. The main characters aren't refusing to listen or reading innuendo into random sentences. They truly don't understand the other at times because their worlds are so different. He isn't thinking of her in the same sphere of his usual theater mistresses but Lucia struggles with understanding that as the world of wealthy lords and theater mistresses is really all she knows.
I like Lucia. She's intelligent and a quick learner and I liked how she and Rivers became friends. As he gets to know her and comes to respect her he begins to understand how much being a working actress would mean to her. Lucia is trying to make the most of this opportunity to become an actress so that she no longer has to depend on her family who do not respect her or particularly like her. I enjoyed that she is trying to become an actress and not the usual courtesan that you sometimes see in historicals where the heroine is forced to earn her own way.
There were a few times when the misunderstandings drug a bit but it felt very natural. I liked seeing Lucia come into her own and how she handled things with Rivers. The ending did wrap up a little quickly and felt a bit contrived but I really liked these characters so I was okay with it. While this is the 3rd in the trilogy the stories are kept very separate and we only see the brothers in the last third of the book so you could easily start with this book.
Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Absolutely! I really enjoyed the uniqueness Bradford brought to the story.
Would I Recommend this Book?: Definitely! If you enjoy historicals like Eloisa James and Sabrina Jeffries I think you'd enjoy this one.