This book is supposed to set up the Bastion Club series novels; it’s considered a prequel to the other eight books. And as far as I can tell, Jack is the jerkiest of all the heroes in the series.
For a quick plot synopsis: Kit Cranmer finally finds herself back in the country after having escaped from her conniving aunts and uncles–people so terrible that they manage to make both Kit and her Grandfather think that the other had decided that Kit leaving was the best idea. And a family so headstrong and stubborn that grandfather and granddaughter don’t speak for 6 years, even though their relationship is supposed to be ridiculously strong1. So Kit at long last finds herself at home but she needs excitement. She is bored out of her mind. And accidentally takes over a smuggling crew that thinks she’s a man. Which then gets taken over by Captain Jack’s crew; he, by the way, is ridiculously relieved to find out she’s a woman:
Kit’s identity was only one of his problems and certainly the easier to solve. His odd reaction to the boy was a worry. Why had it happened? It had been decades since any sight had affected him so dramatically. But, for whatever incomprehensible reason, the slim, black-garbed figure of Young Kit had acted as a powerful aphrodisiac, sending his body into a state of readiness. He’d been as horny as Champion on the trail of the black mare! (p. 55)
That’s right–Jack’s body knows Kit is a woman immediately, even though his head doesn’t.
And then Jack becomes more and more possessive of Kit, wanting her to change and be a more, well, lady-like-lady. He thinks to take her as a mistress when he believes she’s illegitimate. When she finds out she’s a proper lady, he slightly regrets taking her virginity, but is more than happy to make her his wife–so long as all she does is become exactly the type of boring woman he despises.
I think we’re to think that over time Jack becomes more mellow, that he realizes that he can’t have his cake and eat it too. He fell in love with Kit because she was wild, he can’t expect to tame her and have her be the same. Also, we’re supposed to believe that he finally comes to his senses that he doesn’t want the lady-like -ladies. After all, that is why he escaped the ton; the match-making mamas and their simpering daughters just didn’t cut it for him.
However, it really is Kit that has to make all the sacrifices in the end. She can’t go riding on her horse alone. She can’t help him with anything that she did before. Jack only promises to tell her what he’s doing in an effort to keep her from “helping” behind his back.
It’s an odd sort of relationship, and Jack is never really redeemed for being a jerk. He is just unveiled as a lord, and thus all his jerkiness is just fine.
This story actually had a plot and drama, so it had that going for it. I just always wish the heroes weren’t such jerks.
It always is, that grandfather-granddaughter bond in romance novels. ↩