Marissa York is bored. At twenty-two she's no blushing debutante, and after another season without falling in love, she thinks it's time for a little fun. Except being seduced is not nearly as good as she had expected - and even worse when her brother walks in.
Jude Bertrand has always enjoyed house parties with the Yorks, not least because of that glint of wickedness that Marissa somehow manages to conceal. Not that he fools himself she even knows he exists. Marissa likes pale, pampered pretty boys, while Jude is very much a man - big, strong and far from pretty.
Yet with ruination threatening, and Marissa refusing to marry the man responsible, Jude is more than happy to step in to save her from scandal. Still, as long as they hush up the rumours and there are no unfortunate consequences, their engagement need only be an act. Or so Marissa comforts herself. Until Jude begins to show her his wicked side...
Victoria Dahl returns to Victorian England for her fourth historical, and start of a new series. Once again her heroine is a bad girl, not to mention spoiled, haughty and terribly shallow. Actually, there were moments when I found Marissa difficult to like at all. Only her ability to realise when she's gone too far redeemed her for me.
And then there was Jude. Not handsome, but definitely sexy, Jude is a man with a plan, and his ability to give Marissa the run around was wonderful. He's good-natured, friendly and sneaky. His games, combined with his real desire to win, without becoming competitive, made him an intriguing and vastly likeable hero.
Combined with a cast of potentially fascinating characters begging for their own tales (or comeuppance - Nanette and Dunwoody in particular), this story bubbled along with some daft plot twists and a touch or two of social angst. More romance than historical, with one of my least favourite of Dahl heroines, but possibly my favourite of her heroes, this was an enjoyable way to pass the time. Oh, and did I mention hot. There are a couple of scenes in Jude's bedroom that... well, you'll just have to read it and see. I look forward to seeing what Dahl comes up with next.