Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Wicked House of Rohan by Anne Stuart

wicked house cover
Setting:  Venice, 1740

Stereotypes:  Venice is a den of sin; bored people are interesting; men are wicked but like their women angelic.

Major likes: The setting; it was a fun, quick read.

Major dislike:  The story had a lot of loose ends.

Oh the Rohans.  How are they wicked--let me count the ways.  One, they propose debauchery.  Two, they hang out with people of Questionable Moral Judgement.  Three, they refuse to be shocked by said debauchery (see reason one).  Four, they have the sexs.

Unemployed, friendless, and broke, Kathleen Strong is desperate enough to accept a shady job as governess to a Mr. Marblethorpe's sister in Venice.  But when she arrives at her new job, she discovers there is no governess job, she's actually the only living virgin in Venice over the age of 12 (because it's VENICE), and the gentleman is part of a club that wants to pop her cherry so they can feel like scandalous degenerates instead of utterly useless wastes of space.

BUT!  Enter the mysterious and lethargic Alastair Rohan, the most degenerate of all the degenerates.  The forming of the club and the deflowering of the virgin were both his ideas.  Now that he's laid eyes on Miss Strong, however, he feels possessive and thus would like to lay more than just eyes on her. 

And they fell in love.

This novella was actually fairly entertaining.  Although we never find out what exactly Kathleen did to piss off her former employers, causing them to strand her in a foreign country; or why Rohan's butler is being controlled by Marblethorpe; or what the source of Rohan's cynical ennui is.  We do at least discover that Alastair and Kathleen have a shared past.  The story clips along at a very brisk pace, and before you know it, it's over! 

As for the setting, it doesn't play that much into the story.  Venice is like the 18th-century version of Las Vegas:  what happens there stays there.  It's pretty over-the-top, actually, but then everything in this novella is.

As a promotion for Stuart's new Rohan series, The Wicked House of Rohan does its job: I am now definitely interested in checking out the first book in the series, Reckless.  Although I am bummed it doesn't take place in Venice.

3/6 books read

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