Posing nude to appease her now ex-fiancé perhaps wasn’t the most prudent idea Beatrice Weatherly has ever had. With the photographs scrutinized up and down the ton and her brother running them into debt, Beatrice’s hopes of making a respectable marriage are dashed.
After one glance at Beatrice’s infamous racy cabinet cards, wealthy, powerful Edward Ellsworth Richie is soon obsessed with Beatrice’s voluptuous figure. His indecent proposal—one month of hedonistic servitude in exchange for enough money to pay her brother’s debts—is one she can hardly refuse.
Determined not to let the rogue best her, Beatrice sets out for the infamous House of Madame Chamfleur to learn how to appease Edward’s well-known appetite. Soon the couple is playing out exquisite fantasies…and feeling emotion that goes deeper than flesh. But Edward harbors a shocking secret, and Beatrice must decide if she’s prepared to give up everything for a man who can offer her nothing, but who means everything.
I don't review historicals as often as I once did nor do I read them as much right now as I did in previous years. I have been reading contemporary and paranormal romances more in the last few months, but one in a while I return to the kind of romance fiction that I began with many years ago when I discovered Barbara Cartland and Phillipa Gregory. This work is far more erotic than those early novels mainly because the acceptance of more overt erotic content is acceptable and tolerated at a far greater level than in past times. But there is no getting around the fact that overt or not, lots of hanky panky went on in Regency England and whether the details are trotted out for readers is beside the point. We all know its there just as it has existed wherever men and women have lived side by side. Yet the moral stricture of Regency England were about as hypocritical as any in history. It was considered immoral for a woman to show her ankles unclothed but it was OK for her bodice to reveal just about everything below her collar bone except her nipples. Go figure . . . And here we have a heroine who posed for her would-be lover/fiance, believing he could be trusted to care for her in a society where her reputation was incredibly fragile, only to find out that he used her and her photographs for his own gain.
This short novel has lots of twists and turns in a relatively small amount of space but tells a compelling story of a woman who makes choices for everyone's good but her own. Ultimately her courage and her determination to be her own person rises to the fore and she takes her future--what little she has left--and seeks her own will and pleasure knowing full well that she has nothing left but her ability to rescue her brother. There is some suspense and a bit of mystery here but that just makes the story better. I had not previously encountered this author but I enjoyed the story and appreciated the author's writing style and obvious writing ability in developing characters and storyline that were balanced and interesting. The heroine was so very real, coming across as a woman who is facing the loss of just about everything and yet has presence of mind when making decisions about herself. And the hero, a man of the world as they were then called, is still a man of sensitivity and class. He is indeed a man of his times and would probably be the same in our contemporary times, but he evidenced a serious connection and affection for our heroine that speaks well of him.
This was a truly enjoyable book and one I was delighted to read. I hope you will look into reading it and enjoy as I did. I give it a rating of 3.75 out of 5.