I was really into this for the first half and was hoping I'd finally found a piece of erotica that I co..Show More »uld rate 5-stars. Normally I find them far too short on plot and character building to do so in good conscience.
This one had a plot and there was genuine emotions. I teared up a few times. The sex was also hot. What dampened my enthusiasm was the last 1/4 of the book, partially because I was so stoked about the earlier chapters. I Here's my whine. As always, YMMV.
1) I didn't think the hero's big 'secret' was enough to justify his brooding, pity-party behavior. Here's his "big secret"....
****SPOILER**** his wife died in childbirth and he blamed himself because he felt he had treated her badly. The 'badly' is the part I was disapointed in. I assumed he cheated, etc. etc. but all he did was go out on the night she went into labor. He did go out with his old crowd, but he wasn't doing anything he shouldn't be doing. I get that you'd feel guilty about not being there, but how that translated into his treatment of the h is what I wasn't sold on. Seriously, WHY couldn't he have kept her as his mistress? She wouldn't have expected more and would have been THRILLED with that arrangement. The reasons were too flimsy for me.
2) The fact that he gave her away to another protector really irked me. Of course, she never slept with the other guy, but it would have served him right if she had. I think it would have been great if he'd given her to the other man, then immediately thought WTF!! and chased her to London in full John Wayne 'True Grit' run the horse to death fashion to stop the "consummation". (just kidding about the horse, I hated that scene in BOTH versions of the movie). But, I was highly disappointed that he moped and emo'd around for weeks fully believing she was getting it on with his friend doing all the kinky things he'd trained her to do.
3) The magic wand at the end. EVERYONE was all 'go love, f the Ton, even his father the fricking EARL. Okay, I'd have bought it if one character (his brother) would have supported him marrying Lysandra, but when everyone including her enemy's wife jumped on the 'go love' bandwagon, I was calling bull. Her supposed new protector was just too good to be true as well. Not only did he not sleep with her, he still paid all her bills and kept her in a house because he couldn't betray a friend (not the H but the h - whom he'd just met). I know it's fantasy, but this was ridiculous. People are far crappier than that.
I wouldn't have been surprised if the Earl hadn't been all for his son keeping her as a mistress, but his easy acceptance of a marriage was just an anachronism to me. Suddenly everyone had modern, very non-classist views and that's just not remotely realistic. I'm not an expert on Regency England, so I'm not trying to be a historical accuracy snob. I don't care if the furniture is wrong for the period, I just want to be able to remain in the fantasy.
4) There should have been a grovel at the end, but she just fell back into his arms and it was a very abrupt ending too.
I have an absolute weakness for historical romance and sometimes very passionate ones at that. This one has all the hallmarks of the historical with i..Show More »ts beautifully dressed participants, the balls and masquerade, the gentility of the time while on the other hand because this story is about demi-monde of society (mistresses and their gentleman protectors), it is also lusty and openly passionate.
The story is about a woman, Mariah Desmond, who has just lost her protector of three years and he dies leaving her desolate both financially and because she allowed her feelings to enter into their arrangement. Now it is time to find a new protector and her friend Vivian sets out to help her. Vivian invites her to a ball and Mariah comes. She forces herself to put herself out there and several men are interested until her dead lover's best friend wrests her from the room in a confusing fit of temper, drags her into a private parlor, and shocks her with a desire to have her for the night.
John Rystock has been interested in Mariah since the first moment he met her, but his loyalty to his best friend keeps him from ever acting on his desires for the man's mistress. John has a reputation for taking any woman for a night and moving on to the next. He is a good lover so he has plenty who are willing. But on this night when he sees Mariah for the first time since his friend's death, he is angry to see her looking for someone new and he is equally determined to satisfy his lust for her and get her out of his system. She wants to know his intentions and he tells her frankly that he can only give her the night. When all is done, he does indeed walk away, but he finds that he was affected by being with Mariah and wants her again.
Mariah continues her quest even though she secretly wishes that John would have offered for her. She is surprised beyond all when he finds her again and rescues her from a man that won't take 'no' for an answer. He makes a startling proposition to her. They will conduct an affair where there are no strings attached in that she is welcome to continue her search, but in the mean time they will have each other just for pleasure. Mariah is skeptical of agreeing because she knows that she'll become attached, but wants to be with John so agrees.
Meanwhile, John's past comes knocking on his door to haunt him once more. Things turn dangerous and he should be focused on the danger, but all he can think about is Mariah and protecting his growing feelings for her. But the evil from his past that seeks to break him is observant and zeroes in on Mariah as his weak spot.
This was a very heated listen and is obviously erotic, but it is also a sweet romance in a way with the slowly growing relationship from no strings to a deep and sacrificial love. I enjoyed how there was still a nice plot that drove all the passionate scenes and the element of danger pushed up the intensity. I found the villain a bit over the top, but yet his part in the story still worked for me. I really liked the role Vivian played as Mariah's wise friend and as a subtle matchmaker for this pair who really worked well for each other. I loved seeing Mariah's sweet, but lusty nature work as the perfect foil to break through the jaded, unfeeling wall that John tried to put up to protect himself from getting hurt. It's always fun to read about men who aren't as unmoved as they'd like to pretend because it seems that those character types tend to fall the hardest.
It was a satisfying read that I'd recommend to fans of Historical erotica.