Arabella Spencer was not your typical well brought up young lady in England during 1816. She was well brought up and her grandfather was a baron but Arabella could pretty much do whatever she wanted. Her parents were long dead and she lived with her elderly aunts, supporting them by writing mystery novels under the pen name of A.S. Penwrite, who everyone though was a man. So, at 25 and pretty much figuring that she will remain a spinster, Arabella decides to visit a brothel while seeking adventures in London. There she could learn about the mystery of sex without anyone being the wiser. At least, that was the thought as she sneaks into a high class brothel to hide where she can watch but not be seen. Before she can find a good hiding place though, the room’s door opens and in walks a gentleman and the brothel’s madam.
Lord Mercer, aka Grayson has been out of the country fighting Napoleon for several years. He’s back to take over his estates but more importantly to find out why his younger brother killed himself. His first stop though is a London brothel to take care of more pressing needs. Though the requested prostitute does all that is asked of her, Grayson feels as though it’s not enough. When he finds a small miss under the bed, he decides to shake her up and make sure that she never does anything like this again. He also thinks that though this seemingly well brought up young lady is not marriage material, she is definitely mistress material and makes plans to put her in this role. In the morning, she’s gone and though Grayson looks for her, he is unable to find her.
After being found in the brothel, Arabella quickly makes her way to the small village she lives in. She wants to put that experience way behind her. The local news is that Lord Mercer is coming home. Arabella is concerned as his younger brother and she had planned on getting married until she broke it off after finding him with his true love. When she finds out that the man at the brothel and Lord Mercer are the same person, Arabella knows that she can be exposed. It doesn’t help that she’s attracted to him and he seems to be interested in her. With his brother’s death between them, dare they explore these feelings?
While this starts out as an interesting historical romance novel, it quickly turns into something more. The romance is still there as is the love story but someone is also trying to kill Arabella. The first attack happens shortly after Grayson’s return and they seem to continue. Who is doing this and why? As Arabella works on figuring out who is after her, Grayson falls more and more in love with her. This only seems to endanger him too. While he’s sure he can take care of them, Arabella isn’t. So, will they find out who behind these attempts before someone gets seriously hurt?
Arabella and even Grayson are interesting characters. They are well developed and you get a real sense of their personalities. However, equally well done are Arabella’s elderly aunts. They are twins with unique personalities and definite opinions. When facing Arabella’s marriage, they advise her to plan the week’s menus while in bed. The fact neither of them have married does not stop them from advising.
While the story line is excellent and amusing, some of the dialog is just a bit off. It’s not anything major but some feels forced or awkward. It’s as though the idea is there but the author wasn’t sure how to express it. I didn’t find it really distracting, more of annoying yet I’m not sure how to fix it. Still, this story was fun to read and while I was able to figure out some of the mystery in this book, it wasn’t until the end that the mastermind behind the scheme was revealed.
All she really wanted was one naughty night before returning to her life as a sheltered country spinster! Crawling beneath a bed in London’s most notorious brothel was beyond the pale, even for known eccentric Arabella Spencer. Little did she imagine that lust, desire, and yes, love was just within her grasp.
When Grayson St. James, Lord Mercer, newly returned from fighting Napoleon, dragged a squirming, dusty bluestocking from beneath his bed, he was…well..aghast! She wanted adventure, did she? She wanted to learn about sex, did she? He was just the man to teach her!
As a vow of vengeance and a case of mistaken identity unite Grayson and Arabella in a common goal, the dour Lord Mercer finds himself laughing for the first time in longer than he can recall but will an unknown threat bring them together or tear their world apart?