My review cross-posted from Joyfully Reviewed: http://www.joyfullyreviewed.com/new-reviews/damsel-in-disguise-by-susan-gee-heino
It’s been three years since Lord Anthony Rastmoor broke actress Julia St. Clement’s heart by wagering her at the gaming table. Despite the viscount’s actions, Julia’s heart still belongs to him and when she overhears a plot to murder Anthony, she knows she must warn him. Disguised as a man with her friend Sophie as her “wife,” Julia sets out to warn Anthony. But when she finds him, things don’t go as planned…
Anthony believes Julia to have died in the bed of another man, and not just any man – his dastardly cousin. So when she returns from the grave, Anthony doesn’t know whether he wants to strangle her or hold onto her and never let go. With would-be murderers lurking around every corner, Anthony must learn to trust the woman he believes betrayed him so they can work together to defeat an old enemy from the past.
Passion, deception, disguises, and mayhem all combine in Damsel in Disguise. Susan Gee Heino has penned a story that’s almost Shakespearean in its plot, with lords and actors, villains and rogues, mysteries and a heroine who cross-dresses to rescue her hero. Damsel in Disguise has an orderly kind of chaos to it that normally appeals to me, but it was dragged down a bit by an unlikeable hero. Both Julia and Anthony were victims of lies and half-truths, yet while Julia is an incredibly likeable protagonist, the same cannot be said for Anthony. He’s often cruel, both in word and deed, towards Julia and his self-pitying rationale for his behavior failed to move me. I never felt I could understand why Julia loved him, other than perhaps the fact that he was a far better person when they first met.
Damsel in Disguise can be read as a standalone, but characters from Ms. Heino’s debut novel, Mistress by Mistake, play a strong supporting role and Ms. Heino leaves teasers in the story for her next book, Temptress in Training. I like that Ms. Heino’s characters are unconventional, and her writing style definitely appealed to me. While Anthony’s behavior turned me off a bit from Damsel in Disguise, I look forward to reading Ms. Heino’s other books.