I initially hadn’t held out much hope that this book would be anything special. Most of the reviews were good, but there were several that were not. Be forewarned, there is fairly explicit sex throughout, but, as I happily found out, beautifully written. This book is most definitely a keeper.
The book opens with Lady Abigail Weston enlisting James Stevens’ assistance in teaching her about what occurs in the marriage bed so that Abigail may give her sister, who will likely receive a marriage proposal by the end of the season, an informed explanation before her nuptials. Lady Abigail is a twenty-five year old spinster who was engaged when she was very young, but her fiancé died before they could wed and she has remained unmarried. James Stevens is a wealthy, handsome (black hair, blue eyes…need I say more?) owner of a gambling den. Around London he is renowned for his prowess in bed. James is also the bastard son of an Earl, which makes him a pariah in the eyes of the ton. Any connection between the two would mean instant ruin for Abigail.
James Stevens in intrigued by Abigail, initially believing he can maintain a detached distance, but soon discovers that she ignites emotions he never thought he was capable of feeling. Their first meetings are wrought with sexual tension, and passion that neither can ignore, and they are both willing to admit that they share the same inexplicable yearning for one another. James’ tender feelings toward Abigail make him long to protect her from making any rash choices, especially the one she is most bent on - a sexual liaison with him.
James has been cast off by his father, the Earl of Spencer, and has been forced to make his way in a world that loathes his very existence. He is damaged goods in so many ways, and Abigail is determined to help him conquer his demons. He is desperate for love and acceptance from his father, who is unwilling to recognize James as his son in public. In order to dull the pain and heartbreak, James has established himself as the quintessential libertine. He has never in his life felt love for anyone, except for his mother and brother. But what tortures James most is that he has no power to change his circumstance. Instead he finds solace in torrid sexual encounters with fallen women of high society, but nothing has ever prepared him for the feelings Abigail stirs within. He knows any real relationship between them is impossible, but he can’t stop himself from his self-destructive path of experiencing real love for the first time in his life.
This book has been described by some as erotica…and I suppose it is, but the love/sexual scenes were written in such a way that instead of feeling cheap or dirty, they are beautiful and passionate. The author captured the tormented love between this unlikely pair so wonderfully, in my opinion, that it had me glued to every page until I finished. The minor characters do their bit to drive the plot along and place obstacles in their way, but the majority of the action revolves around James and Abigail, right where it should be. I’m looking forward to reading more of what this author has to offer.