I enjoyed this, even if I did have to smother the realist at the back of my head that kept muttering away about levels of syphilis among 18th century whores and their customers. However - the realist battered into submission - I liked that this was set away from the standard Regency period, and thought the gin-soaked awfulness of life for so many (poor) people, and the lawlessness of early 18th century London was well presented - there are ball rooms and fancy houses as well - this isn't all grim reality!
This book centres around a peripheral character from Book 1 (Wicked Intentions), but unlike Book 1's "ordinary" leading lady, Lady Hero is sister to a Duke no less, and stuffed to the gills with convention and duty. She is well advanced along her correct and proper path of loveless marriage and producing heirs when she meets her fiance's brother - the said-to-be wicked and scandalous Griffin (were people really called Hero and Griffin in 18th century England?).
There are sex scenes here, maybe a few too many, but there is a nice earthy realism about Ms Hoyt's bedroom (coach, library...) scenes that lifted these from the standard he did this, she clings, she comes, he comes norm of this genre - our virginal heroine worries about smell, and my inner realist was soothed by one of the secondary characters stating "... if I'm lucky, my husband won't have half a dozen mistresses and give me the pox..."
The denouement was daft really (oops, my inner realist is recovering!) but what the heck - these books are meant to be escapist fun, and the skill in the field is putting in enough reality to make these books interesting, but departing enough to ensure happy endings. Some fail and leave me annoyed that I bothered to read to the end, or worse, giving up half way through. No danger of that with this, it pulled me along at a fair old lick, I was interested in the secondary characters, found the depiction of male friendship beautifully done, as was the very clear tension between duty and heart. Will probably read fine as a stand alone, but much will become clear if you read Book 1 first.
Good set up for Book 3, Scandalous Desires, out in Nov 2011.