Lady Georgiana, daughter of an Earl, is not one to stick to the confines of sexual ethics or standards set by society. As she is living in a time that is soon to see the turn of the century (1895), she believes not only should women and men think differently about sexual mores but also act out on them accordingly.
Lady Georgiana has an unconventional relationship with Jeremy Staunton, also born into the upper crust of society and wealth. Knowing each other since childhood, they have decided to be friends in public, but to explore their sexuality in private.
Lord and Lady Loughlin, owner of the grounds of Penfield and also quite close friends with Lady Georgiana, are holding their annual masquerade ball. It is a coveted invitation that only special guests are invited to. They spend several days at Penfield before the actual ball, which give people plenty of time to get to know each other and to also, perhaps, engage in opportunities not fit for their normal lifestyle.
Soon after arrival, Lady Georgiana meets the attractive landscaper Barnes. Holding true to her beliefs, she gives into her desires while bucking the mores that once again society, even at Penfield, deem necessary for a Lady to engage in. However, as secretive as Georgiana wants to keep their affair, soon the whole house of Penfield knows of the affair and Georgiana is now a target of pranks and threats carried out by a scorned lover of Barnes.
In the end, Lady Georgiana is confronted by a close family friend that tells Georgiana that her behavior is ludicrous and that frankly she is being an “ass.” Furthermore, her behavior will keep her from an acceptable suitor and from someone who could also love her. Soon Georgiana sees the errors in her ways and that even though she may not like what society deems of her, the only way to get by in her position in life is to stop her behavior and conform to role as a Lady of the upper crust.
This book is labeled as a historical romance. To add to that genre I would also label it as an erotic/spicy romance. Out of all the twenty-three chapters provided, I cannot remember a chapter that did not have at least one (sometimes more) sex scene in it. Though tantalizing to read, it is almost comical as that all liaisons seem to work perfectly in unison, climaxing together, and escapades that have lasted for years have simply gone without pregnancy even though contraception (even herbal) is never addressed.
I usually am not a fan of historical romance simply because the era in which the stories take place in usually (not always) conform to the social mores (oppression/sexism) that were deemed necessary at the time. I was intrigued with this story because I thought it would be different, a story in which a woman was willing to give society the finger and do her own thing. To a certain degree, that is exactly what happened in this book. However, I was disappointed in the end because I wanted that attitude to continue. With Lady Georgiana deciding to settle down, I wanted her to do so on her terms, not because she saw the “errors” of her behavior. But, alas, that is only due to my reading preferences and not due to the quality of writing of this book.