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I have an absolute weakness for historical romance and sometimes very passionate ones at that. This one has all the hallmarks of the historical with its beautifully dressed participants, the balls and masquerade, the gentility of the time while on the other hand because this story is about demi-monde of society (mistresses and their gentleman protectors), it is also lusty and openly passionate.
The story is about a woman, Mariah Desmond, who has just lost her protector of three years and he dies leaving her desolate both financially and because she allowed her feelings to enter into their arrangement. Now it is time to find a new protector and her friend Vivian sets out to help her. Vivian invites her to a ball and Mariah comes. She forces herself to put herself out there and several men are interested until her dead lover's best friend wrests her from the room in a confusing fit of temper, drags her into a private parlor, and shocks her with a desire to have her for the night.
John Rystock has been interested in Mariah since the first moment he met her, but his loyalty to his best friend keeps him from ever acting on his desires for the man's mistress. John has a reputation for taking any woman for a night and moving on to the next. He is a good lover so he has plenty who are willing. But on this night when he sees Mariah for the first time since his friend's death, he is angry to see her looking for someone new and he is equally determined to satisfy his lust for her and get her out of his system. She wants to know his intentions and he tells her frankly that he can only give her the night.
When all is done, he does indeed walk away, but he finds that he was affected by being with Mariah and wants her again.
Mariah continues her quest even though she secretly wishes that John would have offered for her. She is surprised beyond all when he finds her again and rescues her from a man that won't take 'no' for an answer. He makes a startling proposition to her. They will conduct an affair where there are no strings attached in that she is welcome to continue her search, but in the mean time they will have each other just for pleasure. Mariah is skeptical of agreeing because she knows that she'll become attached, but wants to be with John so agrees.
Meanwhile, John's past comes knocking on his door to haunt him once more. Things turn dangerous and he should be focused on the danger, but all he can think about is Mariah and protecting his growing feelings for her. But the evil from his past that seeks to break him is observant and zeroes in on Mariah as his weak spot.
This was a very heated listen and is obviously erotic, but it is also a sweet romance in a way with the slowly growing relationship from no strings to a deep and sacrificial love. I enjoyed how there was still a nice plot that drove all the passionate scenes and the element of danger pushed up the intensity. I found the villain a bit over the top, but yet his part in the story still worked for me. I really liked the role Vivian played as Mariah's wise friend and as a subtle matchmaker for this pair who really worked well for each other. I loved seeing Mariah's sweet, but lusty nature work as the perfect foil to break through the jaded, unfeeling wall that John tried to put up to protect himself from getting hurt. It's always fun to read about men who aren't as unmoved as they'd like to pretend because it seems that those character types tend to fall the hardest.
It was a satisfying read that I'd recommend to fans of Historical erotica.
9 of 14 people found this review helpful
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Let me begin by saying that I don't read books without sex in them. That being said I have to admit that this book had way too much. I did find myself skimming past the sex after the first 2 times just to get to the story. AND it was a terrific story. I really liked John and Mariah, loved Vivien Manning and all the secondary characters, with the exception of Rycroft, he was a perfect bad guy that I loved to hate. An excellent read. The reason I gave it 4 stars instead of 5 was because the over abundance of sex overpowered the storyline somewhat.
As to the narrator..She wasn't the worst I've ever heard but she wasn't the best either. She really didn't do the male voices all that well. I wouldn't go out of my way to listen to her but if a book sounded good I'd listen to again.
3 of 6 people found this review helpful