Determined to clear her deceased father's name, Audrianna Kelmsleigh defies all risks to her reputation to answer an obscure advertisement promising information. Unluckily for her she isn't the only one seeking the same source. When a pistol is accidentally fired and she is found alone with Lord Sebastian Summerhays, the night takes an unexpectedly unwelcome turn.
Being found alone with any man is enough to ruin a girl's reputation, but Lord Sebastian led the investigation against her father. When talk fans the gossip into outright scandal, threatening to ruin them both, there's only one option left to them both...
With this story of scandal, a family in disgrace and a marriage of convenience, the opening of Madeline Hunter's RAREST BLOOMS series shares much in common with the first of her last series, The Rules of Seduction
. Like many a Hunter heroine, Audrianna is loyal, intelligent and trusting, refusing to believe the worst of the ones she loves, and resentful of her attraction to Sebastian, even as she succumbs to him. But she's no fool, and still manages to see the best in people, even when they might not deserve it.
However, most of this story focuses on Sebastian and the struggles he faces - investigating the disaster, exploring his feelings for Audrianna, the relationship with his brother Morgan and the responsibilities he doesn't want to have to take. A typical Hunter hero he is strong-willed, handsome, brooding and smart enough to keep up with the heroine. He also has a rakish reputation, but there's so much more to him than that.
Filled as always with the rich details and powerful emotions that Hunter is so good at, her tale of attraction, sensuality and love is a decadent read. Yes, aspects are familiar (Rules of Seduction, Lady of Sin
in particular), but this story is enjoyable for its own sake. The next in the series - Provocative in Pearls
- looks to be a fascinating read too.