March 28, 2017
Pass the Azo, please.
Isn't it wonderful when you are hooked from the very first paragraph? From the opening
pages to the end, this book was a treat to read. It starts out with a fire in a book store/home of our heroine Margaret. Margaret is able to grab a box by the bedside, awaken her maid Penelope and escape through a window. Margaret's husband is not so lucky, he perishes in the fire. Before this first chapter ends we are also introduced to the villain of the book. There is never any question in this story who was responsible for Margaret's husband's death; the only question we left with is when will this guy strike again.
Time passes. Margaret and Penelope are sharing a small house in the country, but they are in need of money. When her house was destroyed by the fire, Margaret happened to grab a box and in that box were three volumes of what was called the Journals of Augustin X. Well, these journals are in actuality bawdy books and there are a number of men who are willing to pay a pretty high price to own them. While Margaret has enjoyed viewing the books and having her eyes opened a bit on just how flexible a human being can be, she also likes to eat. She decides to take one of the books to the highest bidder. She journeys to London and arrives at the house of the man who is going to buy the journal. Well, it just so happens he is having a costume party. After the transaction Margaret wonders out onto the terrace, attracted by the music and there she meets Michael Hawthorne, Earl of Montraine. Michael mistakenly thinks her shabby clothes are a costume and that she is an aristocrat. Michael and Margaret are immediately attracted to each other and not just physically. They share a moment of lovely companionship and a kiss. But, much like Cinderella, Margaret disappears into the night leaving Michael to wonder about her. Or should I say obsess about her, because she becomes someone he just simply cannot forget.
Time passes. Penelope wants to marry a local man and Margaret wants to give her something special. In order to do that she decides she must sell the second book. She returns to town, only this time instead of the man she sold it to the first time she finds Michael waiting for her. For months both Michael and Margaret have been obsessing about each other. Michael has asked his friend to let him know if the mysterious woman makes contact with him. He has been unable to concentrate on his work, which is cyphering (he's a spy or something). He must get her out of his system - somehow. Let me just say - this scene was hot! He asks her for one more kiss, only a kiss. They go to his house for that kiss. Well, it turns into something a great deal more than just a measly little kiss. Fan please. It is a night full of hot, pulsing, sweaty stuff. Then Margaret leaves in the morning, because she must. She has no place in Michael's life, she knows it and he knows it. But he cannot forget her, so he finds her. Michael must find a rich wife, so the only thing that Margaret could be is a mistress. They are people from two different social strati and they are really really really attracted to each other.
Time passes. Margaret is pregnant but doesn't tell Michael. She turns down Michael's offer of being a mistress, but maybe they could spend a week together. Then after the week go their own way. We all know that much like the "only one kiss", only one week will not work out. But, they enter into this relationship. Then his mother from hell shows up. She figures out that Margaret is pregnant, spills the beans to Michael. Michael and Margaret marry. The story does not end with the wedding.
This book is so much more than the average oh-hum "I'm not good enough I can't marry you but you are really hot" story. Michael and Margaret are adults, they talk, they discuss their problems, they find solutions and they support each other. There isn't any rich relative who turns up to give Margaret the money Michael needs, no siree. Michael comes up with a solution - a wonderful solution - a realistic solution. All the characters in this story are fleshed out but even though this is a character-driven story there is also a mystery to be solved. Much to my delight, the mystery does not detract from the wonderful love story being told; it only adds to it. The whole book balances nicely. It's well-paced, nothing is strung out longer than it should be.
If I had one quibble with this book it would be the abundance of sex. I feel for you Margaret, I know you had to have developed a bladder infection with all that friction that was going on in your mommy parts. And, what's with the ribbon. I had to read the ribbon scene a couple of times just so I could figure out what Michael was doing with it. Authors: please include ribbon footnote instructions in all of your books.
Bottom line. This was a wonderful book, complex characters, great pacing, quiet tender moments, hot stuff - a great book. You really should read it if you haven't by now.
Time Place: Regency England