Sunday, September 26, 2010

Review: My Lord Jack

My Lord Jack
Hope Tarr

Historical Romance/Scotland/1793

Carina Press/July 2010

Received from Carina Press/NetGalley

From the publisher's website ~

Former French courtesan Claudia Valemont can't believe her life has come to this: standing in front of a Scottish judge, sentenced to death for stealing a horse. She fled France to find her father and escape the hangman's noose. Now here she is, facing the same fate—alone, desperate and penniless.

"Hold! I will speak for her."

Burly Scottish hangman Jack Campbell takes pride in his work: serving justice and giving the condemned a quick end to their sorry lives. Why he spoke for that pale, hollow-eyed Frenchwoman he'll never know. But now he's stuck with her—assigned to be her keeper for six months' indenture.

Bound together by the rules of her sentence, Jack and Claudia learn to appreciate their differences. But as their wary affection turns to tender desire, secrets from the past appear and threaten to destroy their future...

I don't think I've ever read a romance where the hero was a hangman. What's even more strange is that Jack takes pride in his work but he's not malicious or mean. He's actually kind and considerate of others. It was a very odd combination and one I found intriguing. Claudia, well, she's a different story. She's accustomed to wealth and privilege and everything the city of Paris has to offer. I didn't care for her at the beginning and by the end of the story, I still didn't care much for her.

Claudia Valemont is the former mistress of a French aristocrat. Her life has taken a dramatic turn and she finds herself fleeing France for the lowlands of Scotland. She's not only trying to save her life from the wrath of the French mobs but she's on a quest to find her father. He's a nobleman, an earl, whom she hopes will welcome her into his life. I never got why she thought that since he didn't make any attempts to stay in touch with her or find her for that matter. Claudia's luck finally changes when she is given a reprieve from being hanged, which was good since she gives up way too easily. Jack steps in and comes to her defense. I think part of why he did it has to do with Jack being a fair man. The other part is due to Claudia being a woman and Jack wanting to rescue her. He just got more than he bargained for.

Jack Campbell is far from a typical romance hero. His life hasn't been easy, he grew up a bastard in a home that no one would call happy. His chosen profession doesn't exactly win him friends. People, even good, law-abiding people, tend to keep their distance from the hangman. But Jack is an easy to like guy. He's a smart, decent man who's good looks catch Claudia's eye. At first Jack seems fairly straight forward. He's the local hangman who does his job well but he doesn't brag about what he does. It is what it is. Jack has some very specific ideas about what he wants to do with his life and those thoughts are what drives him to keep his distance from Claudia. I did like that Jack kept to his principles, at least for a little while. Claudia can be very pushy when she wants something.

The romance was okay. Jack and Claudia are stuck together and forced to spend time together. Claudia's talkative where Jack tends to think about what he says before uttering a sound. They are certainly an odd pair and sometimes opposites attract and work well. Unfortunately, I never really felt that chemistry between these two. They came off as too dissimilar to be believable when the did fall in love.

As Claudia and Jack get to know each other they both find that first impressions are not always accurate. Claudia isn't use to hard work but she is willing to try her hand working at the local inn. Jack, it turns out can read and actually enjoys it. There are other elements that they discover about each other, most through Claudia asking question after question. She was very inquisitive and not shy about asking personal questions. Jack, shy one with little experience with women, preferred to keep to himself.

The story started out with potential, the uncommon hero hangman, the former mistress on the run. I did like when Jack was learning how to live with a women in his small home. He was sweet and ended up teaching Claudia, the experienced woman, a few things about how a woman should be treated. The story started to drag when Jack and Claudia leave the small village and head into the city. It's there that Claudia begins to have a few too many moments of poor judgment and I had a hard time seeing why Jack continued to put up with her.

The story line of Claudia finding her father took an odd turn with wicked henchmen and imprisonments. I didn't find it as enjoyable as when Jack and Claudia were together without the external problems. I did think Jack made for an appealing hero, I just wish his heroine had been a better match. I do think My Lord Jack could work for some, I would have preferred a stronger heroine who would needed less saving and gave more thought to her actions.

Rating: C+


  1. Meh, doesn't sound like a book I would enjoy.

    Although, I kind of understand why Jack would take pride in his work. After all, it's justice right? Kind of.

  2. Nath ~ Hmmm, I'm not sure you'd have enough patience for the heroine. I do think you'd like Jack though.