My review contains spoilers and they're mostly my thoughts as I went with the book...
Bad Lady Baronton was something of a muddle; a funny muddle really. It had a lot of ‘WTF’ and ‘Huh, what?’ moments that kept me entertained. But it also had some of my pet peeves that I couldn’t entirely shake off.
Before I go to the review, must mention that this book is linked with Lady Chamberly's Choices. Garett, the H of this story was mentioned in there as a close friend of the H, Chamberly. There was another friend of theirs who was mentioned alongside Garett, named Jerome.
Garett is not titled. He, along with Chamberly and Jerome worked for the government as spies. They were soldiers in the war with France. Garett is now in London. This story picks up right after Lady Chamberly's Choices, so he’s kinda bored. Chamberley just got married and busy, Jerome is also busy with some stuff related to his own estate. So what would a bored bachelor do? He’d go to his mistress and shag her silly.
Yup, that’s what we find Garett doing just afterwards. His mistress is very beautiful, expensive but Garett is annoyed by her seemingly virginal shyness. He wants his bedmates to be lusty and uninhibited. He doesn’t understand how come his mistress is still so shy when she’s been mistress to some other men before him. And we’re told in details of his ‘activities’ with her in the next scenes; my pet peeve #1.
When I read the blurb, it gave me the idea that the h is going to act as a woman of ill-repute so Garett’s mistress’s apparent inhibition made me think that she might be the h, in disguise. Then, when I thought about it more and the story progressed a bit, I was quite sure that she’s not the h. I couldn’t see the point of that scene at all, so I was a bit irritated.
Next up, from his mistress’s home, Garett goes to meet this older man who used to be his father’s business partner or something like that. He has some urgent news for Garett; some astounding ones, and some damning ones too. First off, Garett is now an Earl. His other side of the family (the cousins) has not been in contact with his own because of some bad blood since long time ago. They were the Earls so far, not Garett’s family. But the current Earl recently died without an heir. Garett’s great-aunt now wants to reunite the two families… through a marriage of course. So Garett has to marry one of the 5 daughters of the deceased Earl, take care of the rest etc. etc. His chosen bride is the eldest girl, Madelina.
Garett’s thought was, ‘Oh sh!t, I’m done for!’
He doesn’t want this earldom and he doesn’t want this marriage either. He’s happy with his bachelor lifestyle. But there are no other options available for Garett. He’s reminded that, like it or not, those girls are his responsibility now.
Garett wants to have a look at the estate and his would be ‘bride’, so he makes a plan to go there in disguise. And then start the comical events of the story.
Madelina is worried. She won’t marry that ‘monster’, as that side of the family is referred to in hers. She and her ninny sisters also make plans. Madelina isn’t a virgin (lost it to some rake, who then dumped her and left). Her plan is: she will ruin herself, again, so that when the man is here, he leaves her be. How funny, right? After such an incident, I’d think she’d be more cautious but she acts as if that was nothing. She can act as a woman of ill-repute without any practice whatsoever! Or so she thinks.
According to their plan, she goes to this neighbor’s house, knowing someone is staying there. The house owner has put it on sale or something. I skimmed this part a bit because I couldn’t take Madelina and her sisters’ idiotic plans, so here the incidents are a bit vague to me... Garett enters the house at the same time when Madelina was present. The noises created by Madelina upstairs made Garett think there’s a thief in the house. He goes to investigate, only to find a pretty womanly up ass on the air, looking for something on one of the windows!
Hmm... you don’t wanna know what they end up doing the next. Or, maybe you do. Lol After all of 2 mins. in that meeting (remember, they just met) and 5 lines of conversation, they end up in bed together, shagging.
I was like... No, I was rather resigned at that point. :D
What surprised me next was when Madelina’s thoughts. When she leaves, she muses on the whole incident. She knows already that it’s the same new earl she’s supposed to marry because he startlingly resembles one of their ancestors. I didn’t think she was smart enough to make that connection but Madelina did! She also realizes that she’s in a big debacle now, for when Baronton visits them (which he certainly will very soon), she can’t face him because she’d lied to him about her identity according to her earlier plan. This whole incident probably meant he now thinks of her as his new mistress! This is supposed to have worked in her favor but Madelina is not entirely happy about it.
As for Garett, the whole quickie left him speechless. It was hard to believe that in all his life he never met another uninhibited woman like Madelina, but that’s what was hinted at. Also, he keeps comparing Madelina to his soon to be ex-mistress (and found the mistress lacking, even if more beautiful); my pet peeve #2. He does that throughout the story, making me want to slap him hard.
A few days later, one of his other friends, Freddy comes to visit. I think he was also introduced in Lady Chamberly's Choices but only by mention. He is recovering from a war wound and still limps quite a bit. Freddy asks Garett about his ex-mistress because it seems like the woman has recently requested Freddy to become her protector. Garett confirms that he can take her, since in his mind she was already replaced by Lina. He’s happy that he won’t have to deal with his ex-mistress’s virginal qualms anymore.
So yah, I was not really impressed with Garett, neither with Madelina. But I appreciated all the confusingly funny stuff that was happening, so I read on.
After their second tryst, Madelina begins to feel the emergency of coming clean to Garett before things get out of hand. But that would make the story a lot easier, right?
Garett’s great-aunt stops by to make things merrier. The old dragon wants Garett to meet the girls immediately. Garett is not happy about her highhanded manner, but he decides to obey. As they talk more about the estate and the girls, it is revealed that Lady Madelina is ‘pretty in her own way’ (translate: ugly) and that she likes to read a lot (translate: bluestocking/nerd/something a lady of the Ton shouldn’t be doing).
All these made Garett think, ‘Oh hell, homely and bookish! I’m SO done for!!!’ Now he’s resolved to keep ‘Lina’ (as he knew her at that time) as his mistress because apparently, he’s going to have a very cold and unappealing married life.
As you can see, I didn’t like Garett much. :D
Madelina never really got the chance to explain. Later, she deliberately misses her ‘official’ intro to Garett. Then, Freddy steps in... and one of Madelina’s younger sisters, Nora steps in... Two different betrothals, blame-games for a while, along with some pining for each-other etc. etc. I was just laughing at it all because it was SO comical!
I found it hard to believe in their HEA but as I already mentioned, I was entertained well, which is why I’m rating it 3 stars. I’m thinking a book for Jerome is in order, as is for Freddy. Don’t know about Jerome but Freddy seems to be a nice guy. I’m also thinking that Garett’s ex-mistress is going to have a book, probably with Freddy. Who knows? All I can say if the author ever deems to give them their books, I’ll read those because despite everything, I liked her writing.
PS: it was still incredibly funny that no one still could remember the correct name of the fake club Garett and his friends created for the purpose of a cover, The Riotous Revelers. Every time someone mentions the club, it’s a different name. And every time... well, Garett, Chamberly and the rest don’t even bother to correct them anymore. :D