Newly widowed and desperate to protect her estate and beloved servants from her malevolent brother-in-law, Martha Russell conceives a daring plan. Or rather, a daring plan to conceive. After all, if she has an heir on the way, her future will be secured. Forsaking all she knows of propriety, Martha approaches her neighbor, a London exile with a wicked reputation, and offers a strictly business proposition: a month of illicit interludes... for a fee.
Theophilus Mirkwood ought to be insulted. Should be appalled. But how can he resist this siren in widow's weeds, whose offer is simply too outrageously tempting to decline? Determined she'll get her money's worth, Theo endeavors to awaken this shamefully neglected beauty to the pleasures of the flesh-only to find her dead set against taking any enjoyment in the scandalous bargain. Surely she can't resist him forever. But could a lady's sweet surrender open their hearts to the most unexpected arrival of all... love?
©2011 Cecilia Grant (P)2012 Tantor
"Tantalizingly sexy, heartwarming, and oh-so funny, this romance is unforgettable; a stunning debut." (Library Journal)
On audible since 2001
Hard to put down.
I loved both characters and how they developed together throughout the book.
What a wonderful tale of widowed, prudish Mrs. Russell being loosened by the rake-ish Mr. Mirkwood as their “business arrangement” takes an unexpected turn, including the endearing development of a friendship. As a result, both of them were changed in surprising and, at times, unwanted ways.
The story had a strong h. It was paced well. It had engaging characters, including but not limited to the h and H. And everything was plausible, including all of the dialogue and how people engaged with another. There was little internal dialogue, so the focus was on seeing not telling the story, which was great.
The story does not have any explicit sex scenes though it’s full of sex scenes due to the story’s basis. But they are not explicit. They are, however, sensual and revealing without any rawness or, what I would consider, detail. The only possible concerning term for some listeners—though not me—was cock. And for some people, it might not have enough heat. The heat level is barely a simmer. And I, a person who enjoys heat in a book, still find the book so enjoyable. The level of heat worked appropriately in this telling.
And there’s an undercurrent of mild humor; not in a “ha ha” way but constantly smile-worthy. Sorta cute. It was so delightful to watch them push each other’s buttons. Mrs. Russell’s buttons were generally related to sex and bedroom action, and Mr. Mirkwood’s buttons were generally related to his moral development and business astuteness.
And supplementary pleasure was watching their neighborhood, their tenants and farmers also change, improve as they were given opportunities for a fairer more just life. The story flowed. I looked forward to listening to it and didn’t want it to end. The narrator doesn’t have a big repertoire of voices, but the differences were adequate enough to keep up with who was talking and when. Though, this was due, in large part, to the author’s story structure. I can’t speak to the author’s ability historical accuracy, and that type of detail matters little to me overall. So I will look for more from this author.
I loved that her story was so tender and intelligent. She took 2 characters with obvious short comings and created a story where they strove to become better people, far different people than they thought they could be, inspired by each other.
I thought so much of this book that I bought it for friends.
The book made me cry in several places, not sad tears, but for the tenderness portrayed so uniquely.
Just get it!
The story is so well written.
She has an interesting voice that is easy yo listen to and no annoying accents.
This book is even better after being read several times. The main character is a little off-putting at first, but she will really grow on you as you experience the whole story.
Widowed after only ten months of marriage, Martha Russell was hearing from the lawyer that unless she had some reason (pregnancy) she would have to vacate her estate and leave her beloved servants to the mercy at the hands of her malevolent brother-in-law. Only if an heir were on the way could she forestall him from taking over the estate and thrusting all the female servants into his despicable hands. Gathering all her strength and determination to not let that happen, Martha approaches her neighbor, the rakish exiled son of a baron from London. The strictly business proposition; one month of sexual attention to which she would pay him a hefty fee!
*** Theophilus Mirkwood couldn’t decide if he should have been insulted or flattered by Martha’s proposition. Knowing he should be on his best behavior if he ever wanted to return to London, Theo thought long and hard but seeing as how she was so very lovely decided to succumb. However, when push came to shove so to speak when Theo arrived to do the “deed” he was the one that felt quite outraged. Martha really was going to treat this as a total ‘business’ pursuit and there was no such thing as making ‘love’ to a woman who simply submitted while she most probably thought of other things than what was happening to her body.
The author created Martha as a woman who never experienced any type of loving relationship from her deceased husband; she knew no better and expected all men to behave the same. However, cold she acted towards Theo, she was caring and loving towards the people she felt were her responsibility, otherwise she never would have considered faking a pregnancy simply to feather her own nest, so to speak. Martha convinced herself she was truly doing this to save her female staff from a man whose despicable behavior simply could not and should not be brought down on the female staff she now cared for.
What was really very well done though was the change that came over both leads. Martha learned to feel for the man who did his best to befriend her and Theo was taught crucial points of not just land management from his land steward, but to realize that the people whose lives he ultimately controlled were under his care as well. In fact, Theo came to enjoy the challenge of what he could accomplish once he put his mind to it; as well as having Martha’s good opinion.
Bottom line: I found it hard to like Martha because of her rigidity in how she was going about getting herself pregnant, even though, I always knew she was doing this for the greater good. I loved the slow build-up of the love that developed between the two. This was definitely an interesting read and as I listened to this as an audio, the performance by Susan Erickson was well done. Martha was a tough heroine to like but in the end - I was very happy in how all turned out!
After I read "fifty shades" I was reading the reviews. Someone suggested this book was a much more interesting read, better story development and much more sexy.
It is totally different than Fifty Shades, more grown up, less in your face but completely tantalizing and riveting. The writing is wonderful, perfect narrating from Susan Ericksen and wonderful old style language that is so entertaining and clever. I highly recommend it.
Actually the story is a good one but a long one. I think Ms Grant could have shorten the book in some areas especially the beginning.So that by the time you get to the meat of the story, you are not yelling for them to get on with it.There seems to be a lot that goes on towards the end of the book is timed better than the slow beginning. I am sure we are to take into account the youth of woman in question and her inexperience. But where she shows hints of intelligence in some areas, you'd think she carry them through to others. I personally am a huge Susan Ericksen fan so it is the narration that got me through the slower parts. I tend to like the paranormal romance stories, which include vamps,werewolves,fairies,fey,druids and even the highlanders. So this was a bit of different. It is a romantic historical based period love story. Best I can say for this type of book was it was okay.
Totally addicted to Audible.
No one reads historical romances for the plot. So this author turned the tables and made the basis of the storyline sex. I liked the characters and I adore Susan Ericksen so this was a great choice for me.
The narrator was mediocre and the story line had (unfulfilled) potential, but OMG it was hard to get through this one. I kept hoping that something great was going to happen or that one of the characters would compel me to feel something besides irritation....but noooo. It was dry and very forgettable. Giving the characters a little depth would help to add a star.
No, I am a fan of historical romance. One bad book didn't spoil the whole genre for me.
SE's performance was unremarkable.
Pride. I was proud of myself for actually listening to the end.
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