Aug 17 2011 2:00pm

Groups of Fascinating Men: Jo Beverley’s Mallorens

My Lady Notorious by Jo BeverleyI love large groups of men. I particularly love large groups of handsome, sexy men. And, I might add that it doesn’t hurt if they’re all Georgian or Regency men (who can resist those buckskin breeches or those alpha males in satin and short swords?). 

Fortunately for me, there are writers out there who know that about me (and probably about you) and who have provided me with some extremely yummy groups of men. How shall I thank them? 

It is true that not all groups are alike and not all of them have hooked me into reading an entire series of books. I admit to growing bored when each hero is more or less a clone of the previous one (or two or three). In Stephanie Laurens’s early Bar Cynster books, Devil was a yummy alpha male who would not take no for an answer from the woman he wanted to marry (Devil’s Bride). So was Vane (A Rake’s Vow) and Scandal (Scandal’s Bride) and Demon (A Rogue’s Proposal) and Gabriel (A Secret Love) and...Well, I kind of gave it up about there, but it does go on.

So, let’s talk about Jo Beverley’s Mallorens. Another group of sexy men, and, I might add, sexy men who are comfortable in satin, lace and just a little make-up (sort of a taller, more macho Eddie Izzard). The difference here is that there is a difference. No two of the Mallorens are alike and each has a different story. I liked them all to varying degrees, but none of them bored me.

Cynric Malloren (My Lady Notorious) is something of a hellion. After recovering from an illness, he goes looking for trouble and finds it in the person of Chastity Ware. Cyn was my introduction to the world of the Mallorens and I fell in love. He’s not the kind of hero I usually prefer (I’m more of a Regency Beta girl), but the energy with which he threw himself into helping Chastity and, eventually, marrying her was totally captivating.

After Chastity Ware, dressed as a highwayman and calling herself Charles, stops and commandeers Cyn’s coach and takes him captive, he convinces her first to untie him and trust him and then,

“Yes,” said Charles abruptly  “You’re right. Tomorrow we’ll use his lordship’s coach to take us into Shaftesbury, and we’ll purchase seats on the stage.” She turned cold eyes on Cyn. “If, that is, we can trust you thus far, my lord.”

“You can trust me to hell and beyond,” he said simply, “but only if you allow me a place in your adventures. I will not be denied.”

Before long, this big, masculine soldier has joined the escape dressed as a woman: a man bored to his boots and longing for an adventure.

Tempting Fortune by Jo BeverleyArcenbryght (Bryght) Malloren followed in Tempting Fortune. I didn’t love Bryght so much. He was a little too Alpha, a little too reckless, and a little too precipitous in choosing his bride. But it was a good story, and the fact that I did not fall in love with the hero did not keep me from moving on to the next.

Something Wicked is about Cyn and Bryght’s sister, Elfled, a wild child like her twin brother, Cynric. Her story enmeshes her in a treasonous plot, a love affair with her family’s sworn enemy and, uniquely, a night of passion in a coffin. Well, they can’t all be men, I suppose. I had little patience with Elfled and did not much like her beloved, but they were intriguing characters and led the reader (as well as the Mallorens) on a wild ride.

And then we come to Secrets of the Night. Brand Malloren is my kind of hero, a lovely beta man, held captive by a woman who requires someone to impregnate her because her elderly husband can’t. Brand, ever the gentleman, obliges and eventually manages to marry her as well. Brand is the true Beta hero, loving and forgiving. After being held as Rosa’s love slave for several days (perhaps not a bad fate for a romance hero), he begins to understand his captor through conversation and observation.

Wrapping his arms around her, he held her close as if she were a large child. He had no idea why he was doing it, but then he realized that he’d wanted to hold her ever since he’d seen that embrace in the garden.

She’d needed comfort then, and he wanted to give her comfort now.

... Her momentary peace was palpable and precious. He could give her this. It might only be a brief respite from whatever troubled her, but it was his to give.

He wanted to say many things, surprising things. 

Devilish by Jo BeverleyNot one of the resolutions of the first four books would have been possible without this family’s oldest brother, Beowulf, Marquess of Rothgar, eminence noire of the British government and the very embodiment of the Malloren motto: “With a Malloren, all things are possible.” Rothgar had been an imposing presence in each of the preceding novels and it seemed impossible that any heroine would be worthy of him. When Rothgar meets his match in Devilish, we are introduced to facets of his character we had not seen earlier as he orchestrated the fate of his siblings.  Early in the book, we see two sides of this complex character. 

In chapter 2, after engaging in a deadly sword-fight, Rothgar returns to his home to dress for court:  

Rothgar eased into his precisely cut jacket. The dull steel-gray silk fit without a ripple, and was lavishly embroidered with black and silver six inches deep down all the front…. His breeches were of the same gray, as were his stockings. He stepped into black shoes with silver heels and buckles and chose a snowy silk handkerchief edged by the most subtle band of silk lace. Lastly, Fettler pinned the silver star of the Order of the Bath to his left breast, the gold cross in the middle being the only color about him. 

Beauty and threat, precisely blended.

I’m not sure that there’s anything sexier than a ruthless man putting on silk and lace and silver heels.

Later, in Chapter 6, after the wedding in Yorkshire of Rothgar’s brother Brand, the Countess of Arradale, who will later journey to London (and into other interesting places) with Rothgar watches him take leave of his brother after he acquires two  handfuls of  blossoms from her basket:

Then, strolling  over to where Brand and Rosa were saying farewell to her parents, he poured them over his brother’s head.

Brand turned, laughing, complaining, and trying to brush multicolored petals from his hair. After a still, smiling moment, he embraced his brother without restraint. Shockingly, at least to Diana, the marquess embraced him back, even lowering his head a moment to rest against the other.

Tenderness in stark contrast to the ruthlessness of the earlier chapter.

And here is the beauty of the Malloren series: many-faceted characters each acting with fidelity to the way they are written, each with a rich inner life.

The Mallorens are not the only large group of fascinating men I fancy. I’ll be back later on to discuss some of the others. Which groups are your favorites?


Myretta Robens
The Republic of Pemberley

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Heather Waters
1. HeatherWaters
I haven't read this series! Looks like I really need to get on that. Rothgar sounds a little like Anne Stuart's House of Rohan heroes (yes/no?), whom I love.
Grace S
2. Grace S
What a fun question. I find myself very much intrigued by Lora Leigh's Breed men, and the Breed women too for that matter. They've all suffered so much but are so much stronger for it and just want to be free. They know that freedom comes at a high cost and are willing to fight to make a better future for not only themselves but their children, too. Love, love, love them.

Also a big fan of Janet Chapman's time transported Highlanders that are all over Midnight Bay, Maine. A little brawny, a lot of magical and untold amounts of hotness.

Consider me in love with the men across a couple states and centuries who make up Linda Lael Miller's Creeds, McKettrricks and O'Ballivans. Whether they are cowboys in Stone Creek in the 1880s or modern day single fathers, they are all manly and wear white hats figuratively if not literally.
Grace S
3. Nicole E
I love the Mallorens. Brand really is the ultimate beta hero; he is so protective of Rosa and willing to set aside his own pride for what is best for her. I also loved seeing how protective Rothgar is of Brand (Rothgar really is an imposing and fascinating character). Devilish was awesome to see so many layers to him (which stayed true to the character we meet in the earlier books). I also love Julia Quinn's Bridgertons. fun column.
Grace S
4. Janga
Wonderful discussion, Myretta! I'm a big fan of the Mallorens, and Rothgar is one of my all-time favorite heroes. In addition to Rothgar and his brothers, my favorite historical herocentric series include: Jennifer Ashley, MacKenzie Brothers; Jo Beverley, Company of Rogues; Loretta Chase, Carsington Brothers; Anne Gracie, Devil Riders; and Mary Jo Putney, Fallen Angels.

I'd also add the following contemporary series to my list:
Kathleen Eagle, Keogh Brothers; Linda Howard, MacKenzies; Nora Roberts, MacKade Brothers; Nora Roberts, Quinn Brothers; and JoAnn Ross, Calahan Brothers.
Myretta Robens
5. Myretta
@_redline. I've only read one of the House of Rohan books, but based on that, I would say that Rothgar, while a dark presence, is a much more mult-faceted character than the hero in the last Rohan book. Well worth the read. @Janga. I'm with you on many of your series (and will probably read the others based on your recommendation). You'll be seeing some of them in upcoming posts.
Grace S
6. Rose In RoseBear
I adore Georgian men! The silks! The lace! The heels! The swords! The cosmetics!

Yes, groups of more than two delectable Georgian, Regency, or Victorian men make me dizzy. I have an appreciation for Stephanie Laurens' Black Cobra Quartet, and the Bastion Club; Mary Jo Putney's Fallen Angels, especially Michael and Kenneth, and the Silk books; Lisa Kleypas' multi-talented and interconnected Stony Crossers, including the handy-dandy Gypsies, the self-made Men of Industry, and the Smarter-Than-Your-Average bluebloods; Grace Burrowes' Windham-St. Just brothers; and Mary Balogh's Huxtables and the Slightly/Simply series. Oh, and Elizabeth Hoyt's Legend Of The Four Soldiers and her Prince series (more Georgians).

I just finished re-reading these series two months ago, and now I want to go back and read 'em again ...!
Anna Bowling
7. AnnaBowling
The world needs more Georgian men, that's for sure. Takes a real man to carry off high heels, silk and lace. Nobody compares to Rothgar.
Grace S
8. Rose In RoseBear
@Anna --- Oh, I adore Rothgar, and all his gray eminence-ness, but the first Georgian man I fell for was Luke, Duke of Harndon, in Mary Balogh's Heartless. I'm like Anna ... I fell for him at my first glimpse of his painted face and his first "dear."

Not to mention his flashing sword ...! ;-)
Grace S
9. Erna A
I love the Rogues, the Cynsters, the Bastion Club, Fallen Angels, and others listed above. But the Mallorens, with Rothgar as the Duke, are the most memorable, especially Rothgar. He is such an interesting and complex character, with so many poignant moments I can still remember after reading hundreds of books.
Grace S
10. Davidia
Hello Myretta! So glad you are writing about this. I also agree about Elizabeth Hoyt's "Four Soldiers" and Mary Jo Putney's " Fallen Angels" series. Elizabeth Boyle's " Standon Widows" is great fun too. And, I must highly recommend Gaelen Foley's " Knight Family."
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