"Why Lords Lose Their Hearts", the third installment in Manda Collins’s Wicked Widows series is a spy thriller with overtones of a tender romance blossoming between the hero, Lord Archer Lisle, and the heroine, Perdita, the Duchess of Ormonde.
The narration is slow at first as the mundane dialogue among the characters causes the story to drag, pulling the reader in various directions. Perdy’s thoughts take the reader along one path while Archer goes in another direction and secondary characters like Perdy’s sister Isabella and her friend Georgianna move the reader down another course. Early on, it’s difficult to figure out which thread is the main one that readers should be following.
One constant in the three books for the series is that they all open with the same scene told from different perspectives. Perdy’s husband Gervase, the Duke of Ormonde, threatens his wife with a knife when she tells him that she wants to leave him. Isabella and Georgianna are also in the house at the time and they witness Gervase falling on his knife.
A bit of karmic justice is nicely injected into the story at this point. The women claim publicly that they don’t know who stabbed Gervase and vow to each other to keep the events of that night a secret from the public, but a mysterious person claims to know what happened that evening. This individual becomes a type of stalker, threatening the three women and making attempts on their lives.
The spy thriller aspect of the story is planted in the reader’s mind but the suspense never fully grips the audience. The author controls where to place the suspicions in the reader’s mind and directs the audience away from the villain, causing the identity to be a surprise and the motive for revenge to be equally shocking.
Reflective of the pop culture movie "I Know What You Did Last Summer" upholstered with material reminiscent of the parlor game Clue, "Why Lords Lose Their Hearts" fosters the spy thriller angle along a story arc that seals the read in the tender romance between Archer and Perdita.
Perdy’s most prominent feature is her survivor instincts while Archer gives the impression that he wouldn’t think twice about risking his life for her. He is patient and persistent, loving Perdy from afar while working as Gervase’s private secretary. The characters reaction and personalities are relatable to real life; however, the situations which they find themselves in feel contrived.
Archer is Gervase’s employee though he is the youngest son of the Duke of Lisle, and thereby, a member of the British peerage. He is aware of Gervase’s abusive nature directed at Perdita, yet, he continues to serve Gervase and comes out of his shell only after his employer is found dead. It’s hard to believe a member of the British peer would take a low level job like a secretary and look the other way at the duke’s transgressions.
The momentum of the story never takes off but rather drags the reader along the series of events. The narration is well written though the story lacks the type of suspense which would grip audiences and sustain their attention. The hero and heroine are likeable though their insecurities which keep them apart are overinflated. Collins focuses on relationships, exploring how feelings form impasses and can grow larger in people’s minds. Overall, the story is a lesson in how human nature works and can be reined in by the individual.