A Vintage Delight: Re-Read #Review: The Stanforth Secrets by Jo Beverley

A Vintage Delight: Re-Read #Review: The Stanforth Secrets by Jo BeverleyThe Stanforth Secrets by Jo Beverley

Series: #2 Lovers & Ladies
Genres: Historical Romance
Published by Signet on February 2, 2010
Pages: 326
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
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three-stars      one-half-flames

Earlier this year, Jo Beverley passed away after a valiant battle with cancer.  I had just read her latest offering.  She pushed to finish it and fittingly it was to be her last Rogues book before she moved on to a new series in the Rogues’ world.

Jo Beverley’s legacy touched my reader girl heart for the last twenty years or so when I first discovered her books in my early attempts to read historical romance.  I decided for this quarters’ Vintage Delight that I wanted to do a re-read of one of Jo’s earliest books when her writing was more raw and less developed, but showed so much promise for what was to come later.  I actually read an older copy of this book from my shelf: An Avon Regency Romance from 1989 (I purchased it new) and chuckled over the older classic cover and the brittle yellowed pages.  Talk about Vintage…haha!

This early series, Lovers & Ladies was a blend of historical romance and suspense which was a bonus in my book.  I enjoyed making the comparison to later more mature writing, but also the fun spirit in the earlier books like this one.  The romance is a tug o’ war sort and not as strongly developed, but the suspense was quite impressive as it had me pointing my finger in more than one direction.

Technically, the second book written in the Lovers & Ladies series, this was chronologically the first.  Reading this one before or after Lord Wraybourne’s Betrothed does not matter.  They are all loosely connected and it is my opinion that this series is the prototype for her later Rogues series as these too all feature young, handsome dashing men who all went to school together and each book are their romantic adventures.

The story opens with Justin Delamere being approached by a few higher ups in the British government.  Justin has recently returned from the war and gotten out of the army to take his place as the new Viscount Stanforth after his cousin and then his uncle died leaving him to inherit.  Justin is shocked to learn that the country estate is the seat of intrigue as an important document has gone missing that has both the French and British scrambling to recover it.  Suspicion is on all who reside at the estate as that is as far as the document was traced.  Justin is retained to spy on his own relations and discover the document.  Arriving at his new home, he is struck once again by the beautiful Chloe and all the years he’s waited for his chance to court her and convince her they belong together.

Chloe Delamere, one of the widowed Lady Stanforths, is in a dither.  She wants to be away, but knows she needs to stay to get Justin transitioned.  Justin was the close associate of her late husband Stephen and helped her and Stephen elope.  The scandal that resulted from her elopement she hopes to live down for good by snagging a staid, perfectly correct husband.  Only, the attraction she feels for Justin and the fact that all her friends and close relations warn her that she will never be content with the sort of man she says she wants leaves her frustrated and confused.  She is fooling no one including Justin that she is indifferent to him.  But regardless, she resists because Justin isn’t the sort she wants as he was as wild as his cousin back in the day.  Even if she can see the changes maturity and the war have brought, she doesn’t want to trust that things would be different.  Then she is caught up in the mystery going on in the house and its residents.  Murder, odd happenings, suspicion.  And through it all her resistance to Justin grows weak.

For the most part, I enjoyed this one.  I’ve always loved a country house party setting for a mystery and I have a soft spot for a second chance romance.  The cast of characters were colorful and much of the dialogue was witty.  Everything about this book appealed save one niggle.  Chloe’s relentless denials that fooled no one got trying after a while as did her childish petulance when the men didn’t give her her way all the time.  Truthfully, her character wasn’t developed in a way that impressed me as a mature woman ready for the love of a man like Justin.  She is constantly trying to manipulate or sulk her way to get what she wanted.

But that said, I didn’t hate her and I did enjoy much of this book particularly the Duchess and Randal the way they worked their wiles to get Chloe and Justin together and helped to investigate.

So all in all, I enjoyed this dip into the past and the early writings of an author I adore.  Those who enjoy classic historical romantic suspense should give this one and the series a try.

Challenges Met:

Romance Roundabout #231 HR
Mt. TBR #91
Oldies but Goodies #11

vintage delights

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I was born and raised near Sacramento, CA. I have read since I was four years old and developed tastes that run the gamut of literature. I went away to college and have a degree in education, a certificate in family history research, and a certificate in social work. I worked for a non-profit agency with low income families for 20 years which included being responsible for the children’s library and promoting/teaching adult literacy. I have lived in Southeast Michigan for the last 18 years and I am currently a book addicted homemaker with a cat and husband who keep me grounded. Recently, I made it a challenge to review each book that I have read as a favor to author friends who said reviews are important. I have done reviews for Good Reads, Amazon, eBay, and Smashwords, but mostly at Goodreads and Amazon.
  • I love country parties and second chance romances. I have not read nearly enough of this author’s works.

    • It’s an old school set up, but it pulled me in as soon as I realized we were going to have some country house mystery going on with the romance.

  • It’s interesting to see how authors change and grow throughout their books, but it still is fun to go back and read their older works as well.
    I like the sound of how there is some mystery and suspicions in this one, sounds fun! The country house setting sounds like a nice setting for a mystery. And I enjoy a good second chance romance. Too bad you didn’t fully like Chloe, but it still sounds like a good read overall.

    • Yes, it is interesting and fun to see the growth in an author’s work. I read the last one before she died in April and just read her second book from a few decades back and the differences were obvious.

      Still, this one was great with all that was going on. Chloe was annoying, but it wasn’t that hard to ignore all that for the rest of the story.

  • Nice intro to this author (for me). I will keep her in mind for future reading.

    • You’re welcome, Velvet! It was an easy choice for my quarterly vintage re-read. I’ll miss anticipating a new Jo Beverley, but there are so many in her backlist to keep me occupied.

  • I somehow missed the news of Jo Beverly’s passing. I am not sure if I have read her work or not but it is fun to pull out these old romance novels from time to time. I love seeing how much a writer’s skill improves over time and the vintage feel to the books is a lot of fun. Great review!

    • Yes, she died this past spring. It was sad. She has left a wonderful legacy of books, though. It was fun to read this much older book and compare it to the mature writing of her last release that I read this year. And yes, those older covers and tone of the stories are definitely a blast from the past.

      Thanks, Carole!

  • I didn’t know Jo Beverly passed away. I loved how you had a vintage copy of this book with an older cover. Very sweet!

    • Yes, it was sad. She beat cancer once and then it came back, but she didn’t stop writing all through it and didn’t make a big deal so most of us had no idea.

      Oh yes, it was neat to pull the older book off the shelf and read it over again. I don’t consider the 80’s old, but then I see a yellowed copy of a book with a cover that looks old and I realize that yes, in book land the 80’s are vintage. 😉

  • Debbie Haupt

    What a great way to honor her memory Sophia Rose, it was a great loss to the genre and the literary world

    • Thank you, Debbie! When I saw the news that she was passed, I knew that I really wanted her book to be my next quarterly vintage re-read. She’s given me so many wonderful stories over the years.

  • RO

    Definitely old school and remember reading her work way back in the day. I had some books on my shelf, then when a friend closed her Thrift Store, I was pleased to see many more, and my friend was nice enough to pass them on to me. I had no idea she had been suffering from cancer, and was super surprised when someone e-mailed me about her passing. Thanks for reminding us of her brilliant love stories. Hugs…

    • Oh wow! That’s neat to have your friend give you those books. Once in a while, out of the blue surprises like that happen and make your day.

      Yes, it was sad about the cancer. She didn’t make a big deal about it either the first bout or this last one.

  • Beverley was one of my aunt’s favorite authors back in the days. I have yet to try her for myself, but I have the first 2 books in her Rogues series.

    • She has been around for a while, for sure, Lekeisha. Her first two rogue books are the mediocre ones, but then she hits her stride and they get better (at least that was how I felt about them). 😉 Hope you get the chance to try one of Jo Beverley’s books.

  • I’ve never read any of her books, but saw how many people were sad about her passing. I should try at least one of her books.

    • Oh yes! *nods head* You really must. But good luck picking one since there are so many good ones. I started with her Mallorens and medievals back in the day.

  • It’s a tricky thing to go back and re-read. If I really loved it, then that is how I want to remember it and not get disappointed if my mood and tastes have really changed so I can’t enjoy it. But, on the other hand, I want to go back and get some enjoyment out of a book I loved many years ago. Haha! So far it’s working out.

  • I need to try some more of hers out. I’ve only read the last two she released before she passed away. Glad you enjoyed this one even if not a huge knock out 🙂

    • She does have an impressive backlist. I’ve got a few to still read, but I’ve done pretty good over the years of keeping up with her releases. *pats self on the back*

      Hope you get the chance to pick a few more up eventually. 🙂