Friday, November 11, 2011

All in the Family

One of my co-workers recently said that she doesn’t read many series because she gets tired of the same characters. It surprised me, as I absolutely adore a good series. Then I got to thinking about her words. And I realized that while I do follow some series with the same characters—Stephanie, Morelli, and Ranger—most of the series I follow fall into different categories. Like families, friends, or even… hockey teams? These types of series offer the best of both worlds. The main characters are unique in each book, but then show up as secondary characters that you can follow in subsequent books. So for the next three weeks I thought I’d blog on some of my favorite series. First up: the Malory family.

When I think about families, these words always come to mind: “You can choose your friends, but not your family.” And sometime it’s this quote: “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.” Either one probably works. At least that’s the case with Johanna Lindsey’s 1985 classic, Love Only Once, the first in her series about the rambunctious Malory’s. The head of the Malory family is the overbearing and controlling Jason, the Marquis of Haverston. Jason has disowned his brother James, who is now a notorious pirate, and has a very chilly relationship with his rakehell brother Anthony. The fourth brother, Edward, is often forced to play peacemaker between his hot-headed younger brothers and Jason. The book starts off with the abduction of Lady Regina Malory. It turns out to be a case of mistaken identity. Nicholas Eden, Viscount of Montieth, actually meant to “kidnap” and ravish his mistress. Try telling that to Reggie’s overprotective uncles. Nicholas did, and he was promptly trounced for his efforts. While the Malory brothers do not get along, they would kill to protect their beloved niece whom they’d raised since infancy. After quite a few misunderstandings, threats, and bludgeonings from “the Uncles,” Reggie and Nicholas marry and fall in love. Their story sets the stage for the renegade James to return to the bosom of his family.

The second book in the series, Tender Rebel, belongs to Anthony and the beautiful Scottish heiress he saves from the greedy clutches of her loathsome cousin. While it’s quite enjoyable to see the elegant Anthony lose his sangfroid over the bonny Roslynn, it was the third book in the series that cemented my interest. Gentle Rogue has it all—pirates, American buccaneers, and a saucy cabin boy who is soon seduced by the sensuous James. Oh wait, perhaps I should mention that the saucy cabin boy is actually an American girl in disguise. Georgina Anderson sets sail on James’ boat, trying to get back to America before her family finds her missing. Of course James catches onto her ruse from the get-go. And the scenes of the virile captain flirting with his cabin boy are priceless. Eventually the reformed pirate seduces and then falls in love with “George.” The caveat: James has sworn never to marry. To save face, James comes up with an asinine idea—he will tell Georgie’s five overprotective older brothers about their high seas adventures, and they will force them to marry. After all, it worked with Reggie and Nicholas Eden. But Georgie throws a monkey wrench into the plans when she refuses to marry James without an admission of love. Let the games begin.

Book four, The Magic of You, is my favorite of the series. I’ve read this one so many times, the spine gave out, and I had to replace it. In this book, the impish Amy Malory (Edward’s daughter) tries to win the heart of the thoroughly unpleasant, but totally hot, Warren Anderson (Georgie’s brother). Warren is surly, rude, and hated by all the Malory men. But does that deter Amy? Nope. If possible, she’s even more headstrong than her sister-in-law, Georgie, who reluctantly signs off on the plan for Amy to heal Warren’s broken heart. Despite repeated rebukes from Warren, Amy persists in “wooing” the object of her affections. From their first illicit kiss—instigated by the smitten Amy—to their forced confinement at the hands of a vengeful Chinese Emperor, the sparks are immediate. The only question remaining: why does it take the stubborn Warren so long to give into the inevitable?

Other Malory books include: Say You Love Me (Jason’s son Derek Malory’s story); The Present (Jason’s story with his long-time paramour Molly); A Loving Scoundrel (James’ illegitimate son Jeremy Malory’s story); Captive of My Desires (Georgie’s brother Drew Anderson’s story); No Choice but Seduction (Georgie’s brother Boyd Andersen’s story). The 10th book in the series, That Perfect Someone, came out last year. 

So why should you embrace the Malory’s? From lavish Regency balls to bawdy taverns in the seedy sections of London to high-seas adventures with pirates and buccaneers, this romance series has it all. Enjoy!

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