Tuesday, September 21, 2021

BOOK REVIEW: A Reckless Match by Kate Bateman

 I received this book for free from Netgalley. That did not influence this review.

Romance author Kate Bateman has a new series, Ruthless Rivals, and book one is soon to be released, A Reckless Match. The premise sounded lively and I was pleased to receive a review copy. 

Maddie Montgomery and Gryff Davies (the new Earl of Powys) live on estates on either side of the English/Welsh border. Their families have been feuding since the beginning of time. Although no longer violent (they live in more civilized times), the fathers of these two protagonists continued the feud by baiting one another over anything they could think of. Unfortunately, the old Earl of Powys has died, leaving Maddie’s father bereft of a rival.

Also unfortunately, Maddie’s father has lost a significant sum of money on bad investments. They are near bankrupt. The family’s only hope is to marry her off to someone wealthy– most likely Sir Mostyn, a wealthy, lecherous old goat, who has offered her father 2000 pounds for her. He’s twice Maddie’s age. Everyone in the village dislikes him. Maddie is in a quandary.

Moreover, Maddie has been secretly intrigued by her neighboring enemy, Gryff, since they were tussling children. And he has been fascinated by her. Because of the family history, and because of their own personalities, they can only show their mutual interest by teasing and fighting one another. Certainly, Maddie can’t look to Gryff for marriage and economic salvation.

It’s been a while since they’ve seen one another. Gryff was off fighting Napoleon, returning only when he inherited the title and had to abandon his regiment. As for Maddie, she’s been involved with archaeological explorations on the Montgomery lands. But when Gryff does return, sparks fly. Their bickering picks up where it left off, as does their mutual unacknowledged attraction. While maneuvering to meet up with one another to bicker more, they stumble across a smuggler’s cache of brandy. The plot proceeds as they work together to catch the smugglers and bring them to justice.

This all has the makings of an entertaining romance, but I was not particularly entertained. While there was evidence of an underlying affection between the two, mostly there was a lot of ogling of one another’s body parts and fierce denial of any possibility of mutual regard. It seems that the sparring in their youth consisted of rather intense bullying performed by Gryff, later explained by the fact the he “liked” her, and that’s how boys show they like girls. As an adult, his teasing/bullying takes the form of injecting sexual innuendo into every conversation. Maddie has to pretend she is not intimidated–or titillated– by his suggestive talk. And that was what passed for witty banter. It seemed immature on his part and got tedious to read through.

There was enough to hold my interest in the smuggling plot to finish the book. However, the sibling and cousin pair-ups that were introduced in this book to set up the next books in the series appeared likely to be more of the same, and the romance in this novel was not convincing enough to draw me into the series.

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