REVIEW: Harvesting the TBR One Letter At A Time, “D” Is For Devlyn’s CHECKMATE, MY LORD, Wherein Our Hero Comes In From the Cold and Miss Bates Forgets the Letter “C”

Checkmate, My LordThere are two types of heroes that Miss Bates avoids in her romance reading: spies and pirates.  It’s the mendacity that she objects to: the hidden identities, the deceptions; inevitably, our spy/pirate turns out to be an aristocrat of the first order, blah, blah, blah.  There have been missbatesian attempts: Lauren Willig’s Pink Carnation series, for example, which Miss Bates loved up to and including book #7, The Mischief of the Mistletoe with the “intrepid,” loveable idiot Turnip Fitzhugh … the best doltish romantic hero ever.  Also, a much-lauded romance author, Joanna Bourne, whose prose, subject of spies aside, Miss Bates finds tortured and oblique (though she, with caveats, enjoyed The Forbidden Rose).  The last pirate romance she read, and remember that Miss Bates has only been reading romance since 2007 (after a hiatus of 35 years!) was Julie Garwood’s Guardian Angel.  The Pink Carnation series is presently more intrigue than romance and Garwood … well, she kept writing the same book, same hero and heroine.  So, spies and pirates are out (and no, Miss Bates has never read The Windflower).  But into every sensibility, an exception must fall and Tracey Devlyn’s Checkmate, My Lord was it.  Though ruined by Barry’s prose in Brave In Heart until something that sublime comes along (Cecilia Grant, we’re ready for another novel), Devlyn’s was, if not inspired in the writing, a moving and engrossing read. Continue reading for more of Miss Bates’s thoughts on this surprisingly adept novel