THE VISCOUNT AND THE VIRGIN
Author: Annie Burrows ISBN: 9780373296125 10/2010 HISTORICAL Publisher: HARLEQUIN
RRAH's THOUGHTS AND PONDERINGS:
Imogen and Mildenhall made for quite a pair. Imogen was as genuine and generous as they came, while Mildenhall assumed the worst case scenario, every single time. Imogen spills champagne on him—she must be trying to trap him into marriage. Imogen is on the terrace the same time as him—she must be stalking him. Admittedly, he does realize his mistaken assumptions before it's too late, but that only leads to a whole new set of worries.
Other than some very..."questionable" moments lacking in common sense, Imogen makes the best of her situation. Several times she thinks that she would like more from Mildenhall, but reminds herself that it might be better if not. She's more practical than most of the Regency heroines running around, maybe due to her 'advanced' age of twenty-five, or maybe because she understands herself and limitations.
Mildenhall's family is another story altogether. His father was completely unlikable, while the twins were more or less an after-thought, I think. There wasn't enough in the book to justify the father's cruelty and angry behavior, nor did the twins have much more than to play as plot devices. None of them felt as fleshed out as they could have been.
As this is part of a larger multi-author mini-series (the 'Silk and Scandal' collection), characters from the previous four books appeared for brief cameos, or the events surrounding Stephen's (Imogen's half-brother) role in those books are mentioned. Stephen is the 'connecting' character throughout the books (his own book is the final book in the series) and also the one who is seeking to find out the truth of the scandal that destroyed the central characters' families nearly twenty years ago.
Having not read the previous books, I can't say anything to Stephen's behavior in them, but in this book, he was abominable! He had brief moments of shining knight-dom, but overall, he didn't deserve the hero worship that Imogen had felt for him all those years apart.
The last few chapters are a jumbled confusion with Imogen running away, and Mildenhall finally understanding the whole picture and Stephen just making problems. It's all resolved relatively quickly by the main leads, but I had to agree with Stephen when he said, "This is turning my stomach." With complete lack of sensibility, the two leads begin to gush out all their feelings—in Stephen's house, with him watching, while he's still in a threatening kind of mood.
At the very least this was an enjoyable novel, Imogen was a refreshingly different kind of romance heroine, and I appreciated that Mildenhall knew how to accept his mistakes. I wish there had been more development for the hero's backstory, however, and more characterization given to his family members.