*Note: Read and reviewed for The Season for Romance.
Miss Sofia Eastleigh had made a name for herself throughout London for not only being a great beauty, but a great artist. She was hired to paint the portrait of a London socialite when she encountered the irresistible James Blackwood. James had been visiting Sofia's client at the time, who also happened to be his lover. They momentarily took notice of each other and cataloged how tempting the other was. However, it wasn't until later that their paths would cross again and they would truly be tempted.
James Blackwood, although no stranger to sin or pleasure, took his job seriously and was damn good at it. He was in charge of the guard that protected Prince Ernst of Dalmia. The Prince lost his son and only heir and so in the hopes of protecting his interests, he placed James in charge of locating and protecting his long lost daughter, Sofia.
James knows exactly who murdered the princes' son and is now after his land. He also knows that Sofia's life will be in danger as soon as it's discovered that the prince does in fact have another heir. He has no choice but to get Sofia out of London and across the Scottish border where she will be safest. Sofia on the other hand is not happy about this turn of events. Her father never played an active role in her life and now he wants her to carry the burden of being his endangered heir and despite how incredibly attracted to James she is, he has made it abundantly clear that he is only there to protect her. Sofia then decides that the only way to make this trip tolerable is to make sure that she changes James' mind about the nature of their relationship.
In all the historical romances that I've read, Sofia is the most progressive heroine that I've come across. She was raised in a bohemian type of environment where people are much more open about intimate relations and it's not considered improper for a woman to be too independent or to have more than one lover. Even so, I was a bit taken aback by how forward her character was. The development of the relationship between Sofia and James was instigated by her and was entirely sexual...for the most part. James was a typical rake so his reaction and actions were expected. It was Sofia who surprised me most.
There were things about this book that I enjoyed and things that I had a little trouble with. I enjoyed the development of the relationship between Sofia and James. What started off as a sexual relationship progressed to a relationship with emotional value and meaning. During the course of the book, the act of sex turned into an act of love making. In addition, the plot was interesting and Johnson gave us some very dramatic and suspenseful scenes that punctuated the danger that Sofia and James faced.
Being an erotic romance, I understand that the reason for the explicitness and I had no trouble with that. Where I did have trouble was with some of the sexual situations that the characters found themselves in. Within the context of the setting, some of those situations seemed unlikely. The other area that I felt could have used a little more polishing was the language. At times, I felt that the dialogue was too modern for the 19th century.