This is the first book I have read by Anne Mallory.
Miranda Chase works in a bookshop and is reading a not yet released Gothic novel, when a customer comes in. She finds him confusing as he openly flirts with her whilst trying to locate a book he's ordered. There is no description of her looks, but she doesn't see herself as very pretty. When the wealthy gentleman leaves, deliberately without his order, Miranda realises she must deliver it herself. When she arrives, she realises he is Maximilian, Viscount Downing, the one who's scandulous reputation regularly covers the newspapers and who her friend, Georgette, frequently tells her about. Downing offers Miranda a job in his library organising his books. She agrees, but is still wondering why he openly flirts with someone in her position, when he could have anyone. Miranda shows him the beauty in many things, and later begins sleeping with him. Although told in the third person, it is not until around 200 pages that we see anything from Downing's perspective. He has his own secrets, one being that he doesn't believe in love and marriage together, after seeing how his parents lead their lives. This isn't good for Miranda, who's already fallen in love with him. But then she overhears that he is going to marry Lady Charlotte Chatsworth, whilst he hopes to keep her as his mistress. He thinks this is OK as he loves Miranda, but doesn't love Charlotte. Miranda acts like she's OK with this, but later on changes her mind and leaves his life, making Maximilian make a choice that will change their lives forever.
Overall, the book is good. I hoped to learn more of what they looked like, but I can only remember small bits about Maximilian's brown hair and brown eyes, and nothing for Miranda, just that she doesn't see herself as pretty, unlike her friend, Georgette. It would have been better IMO to have more parts from Maximilian from the beginning, even just small snippets to keep the story going. The cover and title suggests this is a book with heavy sex, but in actual fact, the seduction is mostly in words rather than anything physical. I liked this aspect, as it seems like a verbal chess game they are playing, waiting to see what move the other makes.
It did not grip me from page one, but the dialogues where very intriguing, although since I am not a native speaker I found it a bit difficult to follow at times.I have to be honest though; I did expect a couple of sizzling pages that were just not there. The story was plausible but I do not consider this book a keeper.
Working in her uncle's bookshop, Miranda Chase is content with her life, reading the latest novels and scandalous releases, and gossiping daily with her best friend over tea. Until a mysterious gentleman comes into the shop, flirts and argues with her, and leaves without the books he came for. It's not until the next day, when he returns to flirt - and takes the wrong books home - that Miranda discovers that far from the mere mister he implied he was, her mysterious stranger is really Maximilian Landry, Viscount Downing. The man whose scandalous behaviour she has enjoyed reading about for so long. Now she must go to his home to deliver his books.
Deeply mysterious, the viscount makes her an offer she struggles to refuse - reorganising his fascinating library. Yet no matter how much he confuses her, he challenges her too, and she can't help wanting to get closer, to know him better - even when it turns out she knows him very well indeed. Whoever he claims to be.
Anne Mallory has always favoured unusual heroines - caricaturists, thieves, antiquarians, psychics - when she isn't making private investigators or spies out of her heroes, and Miranda is no different. A simple woman, far outside the realm of the ton, a dreamer and yet strangely practical after a strict upbringing, she's strong-willed and a little naïve. Which makes her an interesting contrast to the worldly viscount.
Max is cynical, dark and secretive, not helped by the lack of narration from his pov (the first is after 100 pages, but it's not until after 200 that we get an insight into his motives), but he's confused and protective too, making him a fascinating contradiction. A deeply complicated character, it's no wonder it takes Miranda so long to work him out. As their relationship deepens, I'll admit some of Miranda's choices surprised me, but I thought the conflict and resolution were nicely done.
More descriptive and lyrical than usual for Mallory, and slower paced, it fits Miranda's character perfectly. And the way she punishes Max is ingenuous. As usual with Mallory there are a few Americanisms cropping up here and there, but the dialogue is intricate and witty, the characters rich and the romance hot. I've been a fan of Anne Mallory for years, so if you can relax your inner critic, settle back and enjoy. If you enjoyed Three Nights of Sin, you should like this.