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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It is rare I read a romance this good
The Marquess of Vere is a secret agent of sorts. In public, he plays a bumbling idiot. In private he is a investigator for the Crown. He's been doing this for years and years and not even his family and closest friends know that he is living a lie. When he meets Miss Elissande Douglas--the niece of a suspect in a case--he immediately recognizes that she is acting a role...
Published on May 28, 2010 by Joy

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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars First Great, then Descends
Like many of us, I was really looking forward to this book. I loved the first two-thirds, then it descended into pure annoyance. Sherry Thomas did a great job in creating the menace of the uncle without making me experience PTSD in his punishments of Ellisande by destroying all books, written in English, depriving her aunt of her opium, and other psychological tortures...
Published on May 26, 2010 by lovesbooks


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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars First Great, then Descends, May 26, 2010
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lovesbooks (North Kingstown, R.I. United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: His at Night (Mass Market Paperback)
Like many of us, I was really looking forward to this book. I loved the first two-thirds, then it descended into pure annoyance. Sherry Thomas did a great job in creating the menace of the uncle without making me experience PTSD in his punishments of Ellisande by destroying all books, written in English, depriving her aunt of her opium, and other psychological tortures. The real focus was on the hero and heroine (who are not separated for long periods), and it was fun seeing Vere manipulate people with his appearance of idiocy. Because Vere and Ellisande are so interesting, so likable, the first part of this book is a great read. Once Ellisande marries Vere, he is furious, but does not descend into endless ferocity and mistreatment. He mainly smolders, still being attracted to Ellisande, and then the problem of her uncle becomes the focus. However, he is NOT as protective of her as I would have liked, partially because he underestimates the uncle. If I had stopped reading at this point, I would have given the book an A.

SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS

However, I didn't stop. In the last third, Vere changes from a man posing as an idiot to one who is a true twit. Too often, he is TSTL. He decides, unconvincingly for me, that it's too intense for him to continue loving Ellisande and they must get an annulment, which he says are routinely obtained, if people lie and if there is enough money. Because that has not been my understanding of the courts in England, that blithe "solution" to the consummated marriage seemed unduly convenient and a cheap way to create suspense. Then, the VERY confusing back story about what REALLY happened to Ellisande as an infant, her uncle, and her aunt heaps more unnecessary angst on Ellisande. AFTER he has seen the uncle brutalize her already, Vere plots with Ellisande to go alone to see her dangerous uncle who beats her fairly badly. Yes, Vere is outside and yes, Ellisande eventually triumphs over her uncle with a metal weight, but I was not happy with this solution and thought it was poor plotting by Thomas. We find out that Vere discovered a terrible crime of his father (see, he has a parallel back story too). When Vere was 16 (after the father's death), he went to his aunt with this heavy knowledge. She recommends that he goes undercover, like her, to work for the police and suggests that he pose as a hedonist. Frankly, that an aunt would make such a suggestion and that any police or government agency would want a 16 year old haring off to solve crimes were too much to swallow. In the meantime, Thomas introduces Vere's brother's romance, something that is so superficial that, for me, it was just an annoyance. I could go on and cite other stupidities, but I will do something Thomas does not: I will spare you.

So, because the ending of the book is so inconsistent in character, so unbelievable in plot, and so annoying generally, I gave this book a C.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It is rare I read a romance this good, May 28, 2010
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Joy (Gaithersburg, MD USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: His at Night (Mass Market Paperback)
The Marquess of Vere is a secret agent of sorts. In public, he plays a bumbling idiot. In private he is a investigator for the Crown. He's been doing this for years and years and not even his family and closest friends know that he is living a lie. When he meets Miss Elissande Douglas--the niece of a suspect in a case--he immediately recognizes that she is acting a role but underestimates her desire to escape her uncle's household and protect her invalid aunt; thus, he is vulnerable to her attempt to trap him into an undesired marriage. And it doesn't take her long to see the truth under her husband's mask. Thomas's strength lies in portraying these complex--and not always completely likeable-- characters in complex relationships and emotionally intense situations without making you lose faith in their eventual happiness.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Surprising, and nearly great, May 26, 2010
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This review is from: His at Night (Kindle Edition)
I have enjoyed Sherry Thomas since I stumbled across her first novel, Private Arrangements. I love her sentences, I like nearly all the characters she creates. The best part of this book was probably the dialogue, and the ideas of deception and self-deception are intriguing, and it was nice to see some of the characters from her previous books mentioned. I laughed out loud more than once, in surprise and delight both. However. It was still a nearly good book, an almost great romance, a practically nice story. Her strengths lie in the tensions between characters, the things people do to themselves and to each other, mostly with words. So when she created a dramatic moment of action, it was oddly flat and not terribly tense, which consequently deflated some of the other revelations a bit. I still liked it far better than many of the romance novels I've come across, but it was a tich disappointing from this author.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't bring myself to believe they fell in love - or really even knew each other (2.5 stars), May 27, 2010
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This review is from: His at Night (Mass Market Paperback)
[End of the Victorian era - England]
HIS AT NIGHT is Sherry Thomas's fourth book, but the first of hers that I've read. Although I did not enjoy this book, I think Thomas is a talented author who has the ability to create interesting and complex characters. Not Quite a Husband has very good reader reviews, so I think I will be checking it out from the library and reading it before deciding that Thomas isn't for me.

SUMMARY (from back cover):
"Elissande Edgerton is a desperate woman, a virtual prisoner in the home of her tyrannical uncle. Only through marriage can she claim the freedom she craves. But how to catch the perfect man? Lord Vere is used to baiting irresistible traps. As a secret agent for the government, he's tracked down some of the most devious criminals in London, all the while maintaining his cover as one of Society's most harmless - and idiotic - bachelors. But nothing can prepare him for the scandal of being ensnared by Elissande. Forced into a marriage of convenience, Elissande and Vere are each about to discover that they're not the only one with a hidden agenda. With seduction their only weapon - and a dark secret form the past endangering both their lives - can they learn to trust each other even as they surrender to a passion that won't be denied?"

OPINION:
Elissande (24) and Penny/Vere (29) were interesting, multi-dimensional, and complex and if this book had been a regular non-historical-romance book of fiction, they would have made for excellent character studies and I think I would be giving it a much higher rating. This *is* a historical romance, however, and for me it just did not fulfill what I want from books in this category.

A positive aspect of the book, aside from the engaging main and supporting characters, was the mystery subplot. It was interesting with some very good twists and even though I guessed some, there were others I was not at all expecting, but that made sense when revealed.

My main complaint is that for me, the romance was just not there. First, this is my first Thomas book so I don't know how sensual her stories normally are, but other than one scene, HIS AT NIGHT was sadly lacking in sexual tension and chemistry (there were other instances, but they weren't very inspiring).

Second, I don't find a romance very believable or enjoyable when for over half the book the heroine thinks the hero is - literally - an idiot and the hero dislikes the heroine. Second, I don't find a romance very believable or enjoyable when for over half the book the heroine thinks the hero is - literally - an idiot and the hero dislikes the heroine. They didn't spend enough time with one another as their "true" selves, without the masks and fake personalities to hide behind.

Another point of contention for me was that the book takes place over just a few weeks, yet in that time two strangers meet, think the aforementioned negative things about one another for half that time, and then fall in love while still pretending to be/think those negative things - this didn't at all ring true to me. Though they're supposed to share a sense of kinship and have a miraculously deep understanding of one another, it felt forced and unbelievable.

Do I think the characters of Elissande and Penny could fall in love? Yes. Do I think they could have a very happy and fulfilling marriage? Yes. But all of that is something I can picture post-book and I don't know about other readers, but I don't read romances to enjoy a great set-up: I want instant gratification, everything settled and in HEA-mode by the end of the book.

Final note: the marriage between Elissande and Vere was *not* - as suggested by the book summary - one of convenience, but rather a direct result of Elissande's manipulation and scheming. Yes, she has a very good reason to go to such lengths, since she desperately wants to get her aunt and herself out of her uncle's house, but this duplicity still made me very uncomfortable.

RECOMMENDATIONS:
Marriages of Convenience
~ Slightly Married (Bedwyn Family, Book 1) by Mary Balogh, 5 stars
~ The Devil in Winter (Wallflower Quartet, Book 3) by Lisa Kleypas, 4 stars
~ At Last Comes Love (Huxtable Quintet, Book 3) by Mary Balogh, 4 stars
Heroines Escaping Bad Home Situations
~ The Perfect Rake (Merridew Sisters, Book 1) by Anne Gracie, 5 stars
~ Honor's Splendour by Julie Garwood, 5 stars
~ Always a Scoundrel (Notorious Gentlemen, Book 3) by Suzanne Enoch, 5 stars
~ His Wicked Ways by Samantha James, 5 stars
Heroes are Spies
~ Lord of Fire (Knight Miscellany, Book 1) by Gaelen Foley, 5 stars
~ Scandalous (Banning Sisters Trilogy, Book 1) by Karen Robards, 5 stars
~ IRRESISTIBLE (Banning Sisters Trilogy, Book 2) by Karen Robards, 5 stars
~ ANGEL ROGUE (Fallen Angel Series, Book 4) by Mary Jo Putney, 4 stars
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37 of 47 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars What can i say . . ., May 27, 2010
This review is from: His at Night (Mass Market Paperback)
I just finished this book and am bit torn about what to say about it. Lord Vere plays the idiot in society in order to cover
up his secret life as a british agent. While investigating Edward Douglas he encounters his niece, through nefarious means gaining access to her house and finding evidence for his case. That said I found this book rather tiresome to get through. I didn't get the connection between Lord Vere and Elissande. Yes they both put on facades, hers smiling and being pleasant to her uncle who is a bit of a psychopath in order to survive, his playing the idiot. Other then that they didn't seem connected. Why didn't he just drop his facade when she caught him out of character? Instead he continues the distance between them. Motivation for actions is important for me in any novel and in this I kept saying, "I don't get why he is doing this". In the end I didn't feel the connection between the main characters and I found myself bored and just wanting it to end. I have loved every one of Sherry Thomas's prior novels. If i had read this one first I would never have read another one. I loved the depth of emotion explored in those other novels. I felt what the characters felt due to her superior writing style. In this one I felt distant and not connected. More focus on motivation, and emotion rather than facades would have helped.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Creative and Interesting... but Just Not Enjoyable!!!, February 20, 2013
This review is from: His at Night (Mass Market Paperback)
Cut to the Chase:
Thomas’s romances are creative, interesting and intelligent — her characters talk of inveigling one another, postulate about art and politics, and debate internally about their prurient thoughts. This particular novel is no different: we have two well-crafted lead characters, both of whom are thespians (he is an agent for the crown and assumes a facade of staggering idiocy, and she is living under her malicious uncle’s thumb, hoping only for freedom for herself and her aunt). She traps him into marriage, he is suitably angry, cross purposes, misunderstandings, et cetera. It may just be me, but there is something about Thomas’s writing which leaves me a little cold — her characters are a little too hard-edged, and though this book at least had enough humor and sensitivity, I find her novels more admirable than enjoyable. I can read it and say: yes, this was clever, well-plotted, and shows and impressive range of vocabulary with a good attention to detail… but it doesn’t really draw me in. Her books have enough awards and reviews that there must be an audience, and I don’t exactly regret reading this, but I found the book more exhausting than entertaining: the characters, though interesting and larger-than-life, are a little too much, somewhere between superhero and Don Diego, the villains, despite the eventual explanation, a little too one-sided devil, and the plot twists… mostly tiring.

Greater Detail:
Spencer (usually referred to as Penny by his brother and close friends), Lord Vere, has been a secret agent for the crown since he was a teenager. Though we don’t learn the exact details until near the end of the novel, we’ve given to understand that his mother’s death has somehow haunted him, and that he masks himself as a bumbling, blathering idiot so that no one will question the number of times he turns up near a crime scene, or while various secrets are being exchanged. He made the decision to become a secret agent whilst still a teenager, and used a horse riding accident and a subsequent concussion as an excuse for his transformation (before the accident, he was apparently quite the scholar). Now, even his younger brother Freddie thinks him a complete moron, one who forever prattles on about animal husbandry and clumsily stumbles and spill various things into the laps of debutantes and so on.

Elissande Edgerton has been living more or less as a prisoner within her own home — she has dutifully cared for her invalid aunt, who is addicted to laudanum and needs constant soothing and attention — and both Elissande and her aunt live in morbid fear of her maniacal, vindictive uncle. And Elissande’s uncle is truly malicious — he’s the type of man who burns all of his books when he finds out his niece derives joy from reading, scents all the nightgowns with cloves because he knows his wife hates the smell, and forces his niece and wife to smile, and pretend happiness and thankfulness for his benevolence (all without any servants or neighbors ever guessing). She is desperate to escape him, and almost does once, but feels too guilty about leaving her invalid aunt, and so when Lord Vere shows up, she decides to marry him (and then his younger brother Freddie, and then him again), as marrying a marquess will allow her and her aunt to escape.

There are a lot of plot twists in here — secret safes, murder, intrigue, assumed identities and decades-long buried secrets. Most are interesting, and though some are quite far-fetched, that isn’t ultimately what derails me as a reader. What gets increasingly annoying as the novel progresses is that we’re told what intelligent people our protagonists are, they’re survivors who have lived through the death of their parents, a life of intrigue and deception — yet they’re quite stubbornly moronic when it comes to each other. Penny spends the first half of the novel being upset that he’s been daydreaming about a fantasy companion, believes Elissande to be its embodiment, and then, disillusioned that she is not some pure manifestation of his daydreams, that she is instead complicated and sometimes deceitful. Elissande waffles back and forth between being an ingenious actor who has survived her uncle’s deceit to acting far more resigned, and at her uncle’s and eventually her husband’s mercy — as if the only thing she can do is react to their decisions, their anger, their illogic.

Also, some of it is just a little too over the top for me that no one, even Penny’s brother, ever guesses at the intelligence beneath, but Elissande figures it out within the first week of their meeting. That Elissande has never figured out any other way to fight back and be resilient to her uncle’s attacks. They’re capable of being outwardly very graceful and politically correct, but then quite vicious and vulgar in their fights; Penny in particular seems to realize some of his actions may hurt his wife… yet goes through with it anyway (he does this several times, despite feeling guilty each time afterwards, which gets wearisome). And the descriptions! At one point, Elissande wonders if Penny is “a man as clever as Odysseus who looked like Achilles and made love like Paris,” which is just a little too much for me to take seriously — and I’m reminded, again and again, that I should be taking these characters, and their life and death escapades, very seriously.

Comparisons to Other Authors:
Thomas’s dedication to detail and her ability to be quite creative in her settings and characterizations reminds me of Lisa Kleypas, while her liking of brooding, sometimes vengeful protagonists reminds me a little of some of Amanda Quick’s characters. I feel like her books must have an audience, but so far, after two books (Not Quite a Husband and this), I’m just not sure I’m that audience…

c booknosh.com reviews
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 4.5 Stars - This was a story that kept me glued every step of the way, August 8, 2010
This review is from: His at Night (Mass Market Paperback)
Plot Summary: Lord Vere suffered a fall from horseback when he was a teenager, and he's never been the same since. He's known amongst the Top Ten Thousand as a functional idiot, but what hardly any one knows - not even his brother - is that Vere's persona is a disguise to mask his undercover work for the government. On a mission to expose a fraudulent diamond dealer, Vere and his cohorts invade the home of Elissande Edgerton on false pretenses while her Uncle is away. Elissande is instantly taken with Vere... until he opens his mouth. She shifts her attention to Vere's brother, with the intention of seducing the unwitting man into marriage. She must escape from her Uncle's evil ways, and that includes her invalid Aunt as well. When Elissande's first plan fails, she tries to snare the brother by compromising him, but she ends up snaring Vere instead. He's furious at her entrapment, and although he comes to understand her reasons, he cannot forgive her for her transgression. Elissande is determined to make the best of the situation, and be a good wife to her idiot husband, but then she notices that he's not quite what he appears.

This is not the first time I've read a story that involved a forced marriage, and it's not even the first time I've encountered a hero who played the fool, but this IS the first time I've enjoyed it this much. I loved His at Night, and in my opinion, historical romance doesn't get much better than this. When I read Sherry Thomas's novel, Not Quite a Husband, I was happy with it, but I didn't quite get why everyone was hailing her as this huge new talent. After reading His at Night I can say that I get it now. She IS going to be one of the greats, and one could argue that she's already there.

One of my biggest beefs with historical romances in general is that most authors rush the hero and heroine into happy coupledom too quickly. Argh, it kills me, because once that tension is gone, the subplot has to carry my interest, and it often fails to do so. Ms. Thomas does not make that mistake here, and Elissande and Vere didn't make peace with each other until the end. She credited her characters with brains, and even though they succumbed to lust a few times, it didn't overrule their intellect. Nothing is worse than when an author treats her characters like big dumb animals for whom the sex trumps all rational thought.

With Not Quite a Husband, I was taken with the unique setting - late Victorian-period India - and the sex scenes, which were creative, to say the least. His at Night delved even deeper into the emotional side of things, and that's probably why I'm loving it even more. The thing about Ms. Thomas's style is that she doesn't present everything upfront on a silver platter. She reveals information slowly, and it wasn't until the end that I understood why Vere was capable of deceiving his own brother as to his mental status. It makes me feel like there are always new things to learn about the characters, which is how the best writers keep things interesting from the first page to the last.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Strange but very well written, October 15, 2012
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This review is from: His at Night (Kindle Edition)
I love Sherry Thomas` work but this one had be scratching my head the first couple of chapters. I think, because I was reading the hero`s inner thoughts, I didn`t realize just how much of a fool everyone around him took him for. I therefor didn`t understand how impossible it was for him to marry.

But when I realized that aspect of the hero`s life, I must say I was impressed with the whole storyline. At the age of 16 the hero decides to help his queen and crown by solving crimes in the upper circles but the only way he can do that is by pretending to be an utter fool. He stages a horse accident and makes everyone, including his dear brother, think he hurt his head. He stumbles into rooms where he has not business, he says the wrong things and he snoops in private affairs - and everyone accepts it because they "know" he can`t help himself.

The heroine is living a sad life with her uncle and aunt. The uncle has her under his thumb, making her pretend she loves him and abusing her mentally. The aunt is kept drugged. When the uncle is under investigation for murder, the heroine finds the hero and plenty of his friends under her roof while her uncle is gone. She sees the perfect solution to her problem - to get away from her uncle, and to get her aunt away as well - she needs to marry before her uncle is back three days later. She tricks our hero into marriage.

The reason for my four stars, and not five, is because I wished for more for the heroine. I felt so sorry for her and found it incredibly unfair that she should be looked upon as selfish when all she did was to try to save the life of her aunt and herself. I also wished felt that the hero`s decision to go through life as a fool should have been explained a bit more. What did it mean for him personally? Did he ever doubt his decision?

But all in all this was a very good read and I can recommend it to anyone who enjoyes the not-so-beaten paths Sherry Thomas chooses for her storylines.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars superb historical romance, May 29, 2010
This review is from: His at Night (Mass Market Paperback)
Her Uncle Edmund Douglas keeps Elissande Edgerton locked away at his home so she can care for his wife, her aunt who is a pale pathetic laudanum addict. Elissande's goal is to never be her aunt, but if she remains under Uncle Edmund's tyrannical care she will be her aunt. She knows her only safe escape is marriage though that can be a risky proposition. However, she cannot even take a chance on that option as her uncle entertains no one and never allows her to go to the galas.

When the neighbor's home is infested by a large rat population, her uncle is forced to host the guests of a house party. One of the attendees is inane big mouth Lord Vere who is apparently an expert on nothing except releasing rodents; even his brother cannot understand what happened to him that turned him into the fool. However, no one understands he performs as the fool as an undercover means to catch vicious criminals. He feels the real fool when Elissande, selecting an idiot, brazenly enters his bedroom causing a scandal that leads to marriage. However, she quickly realizes her husband is brilliant as love and his inquiry lead to danger for both of them.

His at Night is a superb historical romance starring a masquerading fool and the woman who sees past his façade. Fast-paced, readers will relish this entertaining tale as love rips away the masquerade of the hero, but also places his beloved in terrible danger. Sherry Thomas' tale is a winner for sub-genre fans,

Harriet Klausner
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I liked it: interesting heroine, okay hero, August 2, 2010
This review is from: His at Night (Mass Market Paperback)
Overall, this was a good book. I was originally going to give it 3 stars, but the writing is so magical that I had to round up. I think Ms. Thomas's stregnth is her lyrical prose, and that's one of the major reasons I read her books.

Characters: I loved Ellisande. I hated Vere. Elissande's strong without being feisty, and she knows what she wants. I felt like she was a real person because everything she did made sense. I completely understood why she decieved Vere into marrying her. And what was amazing was that she wanted to save herself through marriage rather than have a man save her (if that makes sense!). She's fabulous! Vere, on the other hand, not so much. His motivations for remaining an idiot for 13 years were muddled at best. He was mad at Ellisande for most of the book, and he whines and whines and whines! He thinks she's not good enough for him because she decieved him, and then he believes he's not good enough for him...yada yada yada! Make up your mind, man! I did not like him at all.

Plot: Interesting. I felt like the mystery overshadowed the romance a little, though. Ellisande and Vere didn't spend enough time together towards the end. The third part of the book completely fell apart.

Writing: Great, lyrical prose.

Overall, good book. I would have given in 3 stars were it not for the amazing heroine and great writing.
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His at Night
His at Night by Sherry Thomas (Mass Market Paperback - May 25, 2010)
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