Second in the Company of Rogues series.
According to Jo Beverley, she started writing An Arranged Marriage in 1976 and it was published in 1991. So, there are some years of writing experience between that book and An Unwilling Bride, and it shows. I think An Arranged Marriage has all the signs of those 70's bodice ripper books without the rip. There is certainly a difference in the writing... oh sure, there is an infamous scene in An Unwilling Bride, which I'll talk about later, but overall this book is written with a much better voice.
Nicholas Delaney does show up in this one, and he is trying to make things better (poor man.) This book is set a few months after An Arranged Marriage. There are mysterious references to things that happened in the first book, which I found a little irritating, but because I just read the first one I was able to interpret what those mysterious goings on meant.
Now for Beth and Lucien - very strong people with strong, strong opinions. Their romance has an interesting beginning: he's the illegitimate son of the Duchess of Belcraven and she's the illegitimate daughter of the Duke of Belcraven. Neither one of them knew that when they were growing up and Lucien has always wondered about the strained relationship between he and his father. The Duke and Duchess are estranged, so there is that secondary romance going on also.
Anyway, this is an interesting read as these two people argue their way to a happy ending. And, yes Lucian has a temper, which I don't remember him having in the other book and yes, he backhands Beth in one scene. I found this interesting, because the speed at which Beth forgives Lucian is quite amazing. Both Beth and Eleanor (An Arranged Marriage) are quick to forgive. Beth even goes so far as to make friends with Lucian's mistress. I'm not sure I could be so quick to forgive; I'd probably hold a grudge for just a little longer, make him miserable a few more days. So the heroine's easy capitulation is an interesting statement by Ms. Beverley.
I think the key to this series is to read them all one right after the other because even though the characters have their HEA, there is further development of Nicholas and Eleanor throughout the entire series.
While I liked An Unwilling Bride a lot better than An Arranged Marriage, the backhanding scene made the rating of the book lower then what I was going to give it. My reaction to the backhanding scene was interesting... it wasn't so much the backhanding, but Beth's easy forgiveness that bothered me.
So, while waiting for my new books to come in I'm off to the third book in the Company of Rogues series, Christmas Angel.
Time/Place: Regency England
Sensuality Rating: Warm