Undercover: 'A Man Above Reproach'

Evelyn Pryce crafts a thoroughly rousing tale with crackling dialogue — the sort that would not be out of place in an old episode of “Moonlighting.”



Ah, romance! In these short,  dark days of the deep winter, what more than a crackling, blazing hearth can warm us? Take heed, dear reader, for in our very midst in this ice-crowned city of cold steel there is an author whose ballpoint verily surges with the hot stuff of amour. Evelyn Pryce (the pen name of author and musician Kristin Ross) knows well that most tender and bitter of games, that messy dance of courtship. In the pages of “A Man Above Reproach,” she spins a yarn that both tweaks and satisfies an often-maligned genre.

Elias Addison, the freshly ascended Duke of Lennox, is a brooding, scholarly sort of fellow; he’s a little more bookish but just as volatile as Mr. Darcy. Elias’ best friend drags him reluctantly to the notorious bordello called The Sleeping Dove for a much-needed night of relaxation and entertainment. Not typically a habitué of such an establishment, Elias’ initial response to the Dove is negative, to say the least: “He thought his peers did despicable deeds simply out of abundance and boredom. His father had been such a man. They let their estates run into ruin while they occupied themselves in the pursuits of momentary satisfaction. They strained against the strict rules of society, which made no allowance for their appetites, and they needed places such as this where the patronesses and wives did not exist. There was a part of Elias that understood this intimately and another part that felt disgust.” For all that, Elias is immediately struck dumb at the sight of the bewitching pianist nicknamed the Bawdy Bluestocking, aka Miss Josephine Grant.

The course of true love never runs smoothly, to paraphrase The Bard, who certainly knew a thing or two about the sport of wooing. Josephine has secrets aplenty: By day, she runs a failing bookshop and is the author of the political tract “On Society’s Ills and the Real Price of Prostitution.” She also conceals the girls from the bordello in danger of being sold as concubines to the rich and powerful of England. Furthermore, Josephine is hiding from dark family misadventures. Obstacles must be overcome, including those aforementioned stringent rules of class-bound English society circa 1832.

Pryce crafts a thoroughly rousing tale with crackling dialogue — the sort that would not be out of place in an old episode of “Moonlighting.” Elias and Josephine bicker and banter with wit throughout the book. This is no soft-edged, soppy Harlequin Romance; rather it’s a very adult view on romantic relationships. For all the period detail woven into the story, “A Man Above Reproach” is decidedly modern in its take on class and gender.

Did I mention all the racy elements? Pryce understands the eroticism of physical love delayed. She builds toward the moments of unbridled passion with a very sure, calculated hand. When we do get to the carnal heart of things, Pryce strips away any softcore impulses and shows the sharp, hungry edge of her characters’ exuberant desire.

I can’t say I’ve read many romance novels in my day, but after reading “A Man Above Reproach,” I’ll be on the lookout for more of Pryce’s books. Perhaps this is the best compliment I can give: My wife grabbed the book from me one Sunday afternoon and devoured it in one sitting while I was left to the clumsy play of a disastrous Steelers game. Of the two of us, she spent her time in more congenial — and ultimately satisfying — company.


Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Top Ten Things to Do in Pittsburgh in May

Top Ten Things to Do in Pittsburgh in May

The month's best bets in The 'Burgh.
Best Doctors in Pittsburgh 2016

Best Doctors in Pittsburgh 2016

The list of the regions's 687 leading physicians across 80 specialities.
Making The Rounds: What It Means to be a Doctor in Pittsburgh

Making The Rounds: What It Means to be a Doctor in Pittsburgh

In a city known for world-class care, a life dedicated to health is rewarding, challenging, and innovative at every level — from med school to the board room.
Why Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay is Cornered

Why Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay is Cornered

Can McLay reshape the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police in his polite, communication-heavy, community-friendly, racially sensitive, 21st-century image?
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

Harold Hayes' Biggest Retirement Fear, It's Not What You Think

Harold Hayes' Biggest Retirement Fear, It's Not What You Think

Hayes leaves KDKA TV after nearly 37 years with his legacy as one of the city's most respected, fair and accurate reporters – and his priceless sense of humor – firmly intact.
What to Watch Out For in This Year’s Pittsburgh Marathon

What to Watch Out For in This Year’s Pittsburgh Marathon

Marathon weekend can be a challenge for both runners, who are trying to finish the grueling race, and spectators who are simply trying to get around. We've got the info you need, whether you're running or watching from the sidelines.
Philly Chefs With Pittsburgh Roots Win Big at the James Beard Awards

Philly Chefs With Pittsburgh Roots Win Big at the James Beard Awards

Michael Solomonov and Steven Cook have picked up two James Beard awards this year, and Solomonov is in the running for one more.
Seven Cool Things About Dormont's Hollywood Theater

Seven Cool Things About Dormont's Hollywood Theater

After a decades-long cycle of closing and reopening, Pittsburgh’s oldest single-screen theater continues to enchant visitors.

Sign Up for the 412 e-Newsletter

 

Our new, daily e-newsletter is curated by the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine and is designed to give you the very best Pittsburgh has to offer -- delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign me up!
* Email
 First Name
 Last Name
  * = Required Field
 
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Top Ten Things to Do in Pittsburgh in May

Top Ten Things to Do in Pittsburgh in May

The month's best bets in The 'Burgh.
Best Doctors in Pittsburgh 2016

Best Doctors in Pittsburgh 2016

The list of the regions's 687 leading physicians across 80 specialities.
Making The Rounds: What It Means to be a Doctor in Pittsburgh

Making The Rounds: What It Means to be a Doctor in Pittsburgh

In a city known for world-class care, a life dedicated to health is rewarding, challenging, and innovative at every level — from med school to the board room.
Why Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay is Cornered

Why Pittsburgh Police Chief Cameron McLay is Cornered

Can McLay reshape the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police in his polite, communication-heavy, community-friendly, racially sensitive, 21st-century image?
The Eaglets Have Landed

The Eaglets Have Landed

The bald eagles nesting in Hays once again have given birth to a new generation. We take you into the nest to see how quickly the two chicks are growing.
Review: Justin Severino Knocks It Out of the Park With Morcilla

Review: Justin Severino Knocks It Out of the Park With Morcilla

Severino's follow-up to Cure is already winning national accolades.
Edit Module

Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


Harold Hayes' Biggest Retirement Fear, It's Not What You Think

Harold Hayes' Biggest Retirement Fear, It's Not What You Think

Hayes leaves KDKA TV after nearly 37 years with his legacy as one of the city's most respected, fair and accurate reporters – and his priceless sense of humor – firmly intact.

Comments


Pittsburgh, only cooler
PittGirl: How You Should Grade A Squishy Tongue

PittGirl: How You Should Grade A Squishy Tongue

Kennywood Park opens soon and new this season is the return of the famed whale at the entrance of Noah’s Ark. In the name of science, PittGirl paid an early visit to test the squishiness quotient of the whale's all-important tongue.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Umami Izakaya (Finally) Open in Lawrenceville

Umami Izakaya (Finally) Open in Lawrenceville

The much-anticipated Japanese pub from Tamari's Roger Li and Round Corner Cantina's Derek Burnell will serve food and drink deep into the night.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
The Best 6 Places to Get a Cup of Tea in Pittsburgh

The Best 6 Places to Get a Cup of Tea in Pittsburgh

The quiet rise of Pittsburgh's tea scene gives us a few favorite gems.

Comments


Digital Jukeboxes are Evil, Bar-Ruining Monsters

Digital Jukeboxes are Evil, Bar-Ruining Monsters

The case against TouchTunes, the streaming music loudspeaker that can't stop screwing up the vibe at local bars.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
A By-The-Numbers Draft Has Its Advantages For Steelers This Time

A By-The-Numbers Draft Has Its Advantages For Steelers This Time

For the Steelers, this is a draft that’s long on need but short on intrigue.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Off to the Races

Off to the Races

Want to shade yourself in style at Derby Day and the PNC Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy Spring Hat Luncheon? Look no further.

Comments


Sean Collier's Popcorn for Dinner

The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
Your Mother Deserves Better than This Awful Mother's Day Movie

Your Mother Deserves Better than This Awful Mother's Day Movie

Reviews of "Mother's Day," "Keanu," "Green Room" and local film news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
What Type of Favor Do You Favor?

What Type of Favor Do You Favor?

Planning your wedding and can’t think of the best favor that will represent you and your big day? We spoke with three Pittsburgh-area couples to learn more about making the best and most personalized decision possible.

Comments


The latest tips and trends to refresh your home.
Phipps Kicks off the Planting Season

Phipps Kicks off the Planting Season

Welcome spring at Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens with the Great Plant Auction, Party in the Tropics and May Market.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
STEM Event for Girls Planned at La Roche College

STEM Event for Girls Planned at La Roche College

The Tech Savvy program from the American Association of University Women aims to interest middle school girls in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.

Comments