A Well Favored Gentleman
by Christina Dodd, historical (1998)
Avon, $5.99, ISBN 0-380-79090-4


This book is a related sequel of sorts to A Well Pleasured Lady. Ian Fairchild, the villain of sorts in Lady is now the antihero in his own story, A Well Favored Gentleman. In a way, Lady could be a superior book in terms of plot. A Well Favored Gentleman is a mess, and sometimes I have this feeling that the author is making up things as she goes along, maybe with a large jug of tequila by her side as she happily giggles and types away at her computer. But Ian Fairchild, oh me. Oh. My. God.

At this point of time, I am struggling to finish a new Kimberly Raye featuring an incubus. Screw that horrible book. Ian, people, is the true incubus. He has some selkie-bestowed gifts that let him invade heroine Alanna's dreams and do naughty things to her that make my toes curl. But he's no gentleman. He's an antihero in every ignoble sense of the word, which makes his devotion to the heroine even more touching.

Ian Fairchild inherits the land of Fionnaway from his father, or so he thought, until he realized that the true heiress of Fionnaway would inherit this place when she turns 21. Fortunately, Alanna is missing, and he has nothing to fear. That is, until Alanna tries to kill him one night, and he realizes that she is still alive, But damn it, Fionnaway is his, his sanctuary because here he finds that he belongs for the first time. See, Ian is a bastard and all he needs is some good woman's love and hearth and home. Awww.

But he is not a toothless teddy bear, make no mistake. I know some readers will howl and bare their fangs when Ian drugs Alanna and makes love to her to claim Fionnaway, but me, I find that just in character with Ian, who has no single noble or heroic bone in his body at that point. But there is something really touching about a half-selkie hero who considers himself not human but who so badly wants to fit in with his new people that he will do anything - right or wrong - to make that happen. His need to belong soon becomes mixed up so badly with his lust for Alanna that he becomes really obsessed over her. He can't let go. He must have her. He will even stop the world's turning just for her in a really ridiculous, over the top but oh-so-moving finale.

Alanna, well, she's rather bratty and powerless, but as Ian's foil, she is perfect. She is the only person who rather reluctantly stand by Ian, and for that, Ian only gets more besotted with the poor gal. It's a good thing the author gives her enough character to let her hold her own against Ian - not much, but enough. Otherwise she will be lost in Ian's magnetic sexuality.

There's also a really nasty guy here, Leslie Fairchild, also a villain in A Well Pleasured Lady, and he creates enough havoc. Unfortunately, the silly ass' nonsense only drives Alanna and Ian closer.

The plot is a mess, really. The selkie thing seems to be running all over the place, and don't get me started about Alanna disguising herself as an old witch (and don't ask). But the dark, obsession-tinged, and definitely dysfunctional relationship between Ian, demonic sex fiend incarnate, and Alanna, bratty woman who learns maturity the hard way, that captivates me. And let's face it, a hero who actually proves that he will die like he said for the heroine, well, that's melodrama, but prime time, supreme melodrama of the finest kind. Oh, and the sex's good. Very, very good. There's a reason why this book is called A Well Favored Gentleman, and Alanna is one really lucky hussy. Hmmph.

Rating: 93


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