Miss Lily Boscastle’s family is famous for being infamous which is why her cousin, Chloe, the Viscountess of Stratfield is giving her a little more leeway than most of the chaperons. Besides, Lilly’s engagement to long time friend Captain Jonathan Grace is to announced in the morning so why shouldn’t she enjoy a little flirtation during her first outing in London.
Lily is attending a masquerade party with a literary theme. She’s an avid reader and is sure most people attending the gathering are, even if Captain Grace is not. Lord Philbert is even going to have a private showing of his new garden which is made to showcase The Wickbury Tales by Lord Anonymous, which is all the rage.
Lily needs to watch whom she’s flirting with though as she draws the attention of Samuel Charles Aubrey St. Aldwyn, Duke of Gravenhurst. He is well known for his scandalous behavior and his many conquests. He’s also know as a radical rogue and a champion of unpopular causes in the House of Lords. Lily, however, intrigues the duke and gets her an invite to see the gardens early. There she is given a kiss that she knows she will remember always, especially after marrying Jonathan whom has no passion.
Lily doesn’t realize that Samuel plans on asking Lily’s father for permission to court her. Upon hearing of her engagement, Samuel leaves London to concentrate on finishing his current book, book 7 of The Wickbury Tales. He doesn’t leave without having Captain Grace investigated and Lily watched.
Two weeks before the wedding, events happen that has Lily calling it off. Her family is sure that all the reading she has done is the cause of her imagining seeing a murder. They realize that she will need to be sent to the country where perhaps they can find some family to have her watch their children. Lily decides to apply to become a housekeeper and lands a job far from London.
Lily doesn’t know that her new employer is Samuel. Will she stay once she realizes it? Can Samuel keep his secret life, secret? And did Lily really see a murder?
Set in 1818, the story shares some of the problems and issues of the era. Lily is told that reading her books has made her mind go soft and she imagines things. Women aren’t meant to be educated! Samuel talks of wages in rural areas and the price of war in the House of Lords. To attract attention to his causes, he sends false stories into the paper so others will want to hear what someone so deprived would have to say.
The characters of Lily and Samuel are very entertaining. Samuel had his household staff act out the scenes in his books so he can better see the action and figure out how he wants to write the next bit of the book. Lily wants to explore and be adventurous but finds herself over her head quickly. Still, she never totally loses the spark that makes her Lily.
Though the love story between Lily and Samuel takes up most of the book, there really is a murder that happened. This incident comes back to haunt Lily and Samuel before it is finally put to rest forever, Of all of the story, this is the weakest part. Yet, it neatly ties up what to do with Captain Grace.
An unusual duke and a naïve country gentlewoman sounds like a typical historical romance but Ms Hunter makes it so much more. These characters turn the ordinary into something special and kept me glued to the book. And as this book is part of a series, I expect that I will be enjoying a few more unique couples within The Bridal Pleasure Series.
The Duke of Gravenhurst, the notorious author of dark romances, is accused of corrupting the morals of the public. But among his most devoted fans is the well-born Lily Boscastle, who seeks employment as the duke's personal housekeeper. Only then does she discover scandalous secrets about the man that she never could have imagined.