I received my copy from Penguin UK through Nudge.
Lady Isabel Pelham is a 26 year old widow, happy to live the rest of her life fleeting from lover to lover and never marrying again. When the man she loved deeply and married betrayed her in ways that broke her heart she vowed she’d never make herself that vulnerable again, and she’s determined to keep her word.
Gerard Faulkner, the Marquess of Grayson is 22 year old. The woman he loves has married somebody else, and although he enjoys his flirtations and nights with various women he is tired of being looked at as profitable marriage material.
The solution seems simple. If Grayson and Pelham were to marry they could both continue their scandalous life-style without being bothered by people wanting more than just an affair. It seems a good plan and for the first few months after their marriage it works out fine. When a personal loss hits Grayson hard he leaves London and his new wife behind for destinations unknown.
Four years later Grayson returns to London a changed man. No longer is he looking for adventure and lust. He has grown up and wants his marriage to be real instead of the sham Isabel and he agreed upon years ago. Isabel though is convinced that this can never work. Grayson is too much like her first husband; he too will get bored with her and betray her. And there is no way she could survive such a betrayal again. With Isabel determined to keep her husband as a platonic friend and their life-style unchanged, Grayson will have to convince her that he is indeed a changed man. During what is a sensuous process of seduction, Grayson slowly manages to lower the walls surrounding Isabel’s heart. But with outside forces determined to break them and their scandalous marriage up and their own painful past experiences making them cautious, the couple is going to need to rely on and trust in each other implicitly if they want to have a chance at a future.
Set in the first half of the 19th century this is a charming and very sensual historical romance; the story about a man and a woman who are made for each other but are unable to see that clearly for themselves. I liked the way the two main characters sparked together, the way in which they were able to get the worst but also the best out of each other. The dialogue between them is clever, runs smoothly and is written in such a way that it is almost possible to actually hear their voices.
The fact that the romance between these two characters is almost exclusive conducted in the bedroom may put some readers off. Having said that, while there may be a lot of, quite vividly described, intimacy in these pages, the content of this book is never shocking nor intended to be.
I guess this story and the characters in it are a bit simplistic. Characters are either wonderful and charming or horrid and selfish. And the story has a typical romance story-arc; strong lust and a reluctance to talk about the things that matter and could avoid confusion is nothing new or original. However, when those ingredients are encountered in a well written and entertaining story they tend to add to it rather than detract, and that is certainly true in this book.
I’m not quite sure why the author felt the need to include the story about Isabel’s brother Rhys and the “unsuitable” woman he falls for. Not that their story wasn’t interesting, but it didn’t add anything to the real subject of the book. In fact, I think that story-line could easily have warranted a book of its own.
Overall this is a well written, easy to read and very sensual romance; a book sure to be enjoyed by anybody who likes their historical romance a bit spicy.