Lady Calpurnia, Callie, Hartwell wasn’t the family beauty. That went to her younger sister, Mariana. She didn’t really reflect society’s view of beauty. She wasn’t outgoing causing her to be pretty much a wall flower which is why 10 years after she was presented to the ton, Callie was still single and sitting with the spinsters. Callie was good at following the rules and doing what was expected. When Mariana becomes engaged, Callie has a talk with her brother, Benedick leading her to making a list of things she’s love to do, if reputation wasn’t an issue. High on this list, that is quite outrageous, is a kiss; a passionate kiss and Callie knew who she’d like to have this kiss with, Gabriel St. John, the Marquess of Ralston.
Callie had met Ralston at her first ball and he made such an impression on her that she’s been drawn to him ever since, following his life through the papers and the gossip. Ralston, however, has had a wonderful time being a rake. This behavior is going to come to a quick end though when Ralston learns of a half sister that will need to be presented to society. He’s not sure how he’s going to do this but he will do his best!
After several glasses of sherry, the idea of visiting Ralston for a kiss in the middle of the night sounds like a good idea. Callie finds more than a kiss when Ralston’s butler escorts her to Ralston’s bedroom. There, Callie and Ralston make a deal that changes their relationship.
I loved this book.
The characters were well developed and interesting. Callie knows she’s suppose to follow the rules but wants so much to have the freedom to explore things she knows men can do but women can’t. This hidden little rebellion was terrific and her list of things that she wanted to do seemly so innocent by today’s standards and so wanton by hers. Ralston or Gabriel is having his world turned upside down by not only finding Callie where she shouldn’t be but by having to figure out how to deal with a younger sister. Each is a woman with a mission but poor Gabriel is at a lost as to what exactly his role is suppose to be.
As Callie’s adventures puts her places she normally wouldn’t be, she finds herself in situations that you have to laugh at. How does a courtesan entertain 3 men? Does Ralston really want to answer that?
But it’s not as if Callie can run wild. She still has to conform to society’s rules and she’s agreed to help Ralston’s sister be presented. Any blemish on Callie will reflect on her so being found out is not acceptable.
As Callie worked her way through her list, I was so wrapped up in her adventures that I didn’t want to put this book down. She had me laughing and encouraging her on. I loved that she had standards and wouldn’t accept anything less. And poor Gabriel, how could you not feel for a man who has had his entire world shaken. Things moved along at such a fast pace that I felt compeled to keep reading. I might miss something!
Gabriel and Callie’s story may be finished but she as another list and both have unmarried brothers as well as Gabriel’s sister. Hopefully, this means that we’ll see this interesting couple again as we revisit historic England and her high society.