Published by HQN Books on January 27, 2015
Genres: Historical Erotica, Historical Romance
A plan born of desperation…
Once the toast of society, Grace Cabot and her sisters now await the shame of losing high status and fine luxuries upon the death of the Earl of Beckington. The dire circumstances are inevitable unless, of course, Grace's wicked plot to seduce a wealthy viscount into marriage goes off without a single hitch. But once a stolen embrace with the wrong man leads her to be discovered in the arms of Jeffrey, the Earl of Merryton, her plan takes a most unexpected—and scorching—twist.
…and altered by passion
Governed by routine and ruled by duty, Jeffrey had no desire for a wife before he succumbed to Grace's temptation. Though his golden-haired, in-name-only bride is the definition of disorder, he can't resist wanting her in every way. But once her secrets meet his, society might consider their lives to be ruined beyond repair…while Jeffrey might just see it as a new beginning.
Grace Cabot, once the unblemished gem of London society, is desperate to marry Lord Amherst before her mother’s madness is discovered. It’s not that she loves Amherst, but he is a bit of a rake and would eagerly come meet her if Grace encouraged a secret tryst. One that just so happens to be discovered by the Reverend. Except that it’s not Amherst that shows up – it’s his brother, the stoic and aloof Earl of Merryton, Geoffrey Donovan!
Geoffrey is definitely the protagonist of this novel, which is a bit of a switch from the traditional female lead of romance novels. He is painfully OCD and strives for order and decorum in all aspects of his life. His aloof, commanding nature hides the dark, erotic images that seem to plague his every thought. Geoffrey was so stiff and controlled throughout much of the novel, that I didn’t really start to even begin liking his character until almost the end.
Grace wavers between passiveness and defiance, family honor and selfishness. I found her a difficult character to connect with emotionally. For a large portion of the novel, I thought she was selfish and shallow without an interesting thought in her head. NOT a charming heroine. I warmed up to her as the novel progressed, particularly by the end, but still cannot say that I really like her character.
I wasn’t really sure what the plot was in this novel. The beginning is somewhat interesting, if not very flattering to Grace, but what then follows is an awkward series of sexual encounters interspersed with Geoffrey’s dirty thoughts and struggles with OCD. Yet, for as often as Geoffrey seems to struggle with prurient thoughts, the sex scene are remarkably short. Although, in the beginning that is a good thing because of the following (Which I put in a separate paragraph to clearly warn those who need/want to know about these scenes in romance novels):
Trigger warning!! Geoffrey and Grace’s first sex scene is borderline rape. The third sex scene is absolutely rape as Grace explicitly says “No” and Geoffrey has sex with her anyways! It is degrading and disgusting and really makes me dislike Geoffrey as a supposed “hero.”
Accordingly, I didn’t think there was much chemistry between Geoffrey and Grace, which is surprising given how long this book is. I did like the idea of introducing mental illness into the novel since serious issues like this are not often addressed in historical romance. However, I can’t really forgive boring or unlikeable characters placed in a plod-along plot. I’ve read other works by this author and loved them, but this one just fell flat for me.