My first introduction into the world of romance was through historical romances when I was a teenager. There was just something about the genteel manner between men and women from that time that has always held an appeal for me. Not so much the often prudish restrictions, but the effort a man would put forth to court a woman, and the way a woman could win a man over without being overly ... flirtatious. I like heroines who buck convention and society's rules. I got that in this story, even if it was to a lesser degree than what I usually read. This story was still very enjoyable to me on every level. Maybe even more so because the gentleman was a rake, and a delicious one to boot.
The year is 1818 and the race for the crown is on. Three dukes are determined to wed and sire a future heir. Each duke has an eye on a prospective bride. The Duke of Clarence has his eye on the rich commoner, Olivia Symon. However not everyone wish to see these dukes succeed. Enter Lord Rhys Warrington, a dishonored former military captain and notorious rake. He is sent to seduce and ruin sweet Olivia in exchange for information that could change his life and save his family further disgrace. However Olivia is unlike any woman Rhys has ever met, and he soon finds feelings of guilt warring with his sense of honor. How does he choose between her, his honor and his family?
Olivia was a great heroine. Mainly because she was both a bit of a tomboy as well as a refined lady. She had opinions and wasn't afraid to voice them in selective company. She may be a virgin, but she wasn't completely naïve, thank goodness. Rhys was the perfect counterpart for her. He's our classic tortured hero. He struggles with the demons of his past - regrets and self-chastisement that he left behind on a bloody battlefield in France. After being outcast from his family and society, he spent his time gambling and numbing his feelings in the arms and beds of countless women, building his reputation. But even said reputation doesn't seem to scare Olivia away. She's intrigued by him and his being very upfront about it. When the slow seduction begins, it made me shiver and laugh at times. It wasn't a full on assault, but a sweet teasing. It was meant to coax Olivia, arouse her, intrigue her. Her naivete and inquisitiveness eventually seduces him right back. Seeing him so perplexed was actually quite adorable.
I also enjoyed the element of danger that added to the drama. Someone had it in for Olivia, but for what reason we don't know until the end. I had my suspicions, but I was wrong. A Goodreads reviewer noted that the villain's motive seemed random. I disagree. It may not have had that "bam" impact, but the circumstances surrounding it were legitimate. It sounded to me like the villain was a little off his rocker.
The love scenes were all sizzling hot, which surprised me a little. Were men and women in that time that wanton? Either way, they got no complaints from me. If I read this again, I'll need to have a fan at the ready. The climax at the end was predictable, but I liked the hero swooping in like a knight in shining armor to save his beloved. That's something I normally look forward to - the swoon.
If you like historical romances with some drama thrown in, and you look forward to the hero and heroine engaging in scandalous behavior, then this is a book for you. I really enjoyed it for the romanticism, and I'll definitely be reading this again.
Note: I know the blurb says Rhys Warrick, and in my review I refer to him as Rhys Warrington, but the ARC copy I received was an uncorrected advance copy. Personally, I hope the author goes with Warrington. It just sounds sexier.
Disclaimer: I won the ARC review copy in a contest hosted by the author. An honest review in exchange was requested but not expected.