Why I read it: I received an ARC from NetGalley and I've heard wonderful things about this author. I had read the novella in this series and enjoyed it too.
What it's about: (from Goodreads). Her only hope for survival…Handsome, wealthy and respected, Sir Mark Turner is the most sought-after bachelor in all of London—and he's known far and wide for his irreproachable character. But behind his virtuous reputation lies a passionate nature he keeps carefully in check...until he meets the beautiful Jessica Farleigh, the woman he's waited for all his life.
Is to ruin the man she loves…
But Jessica is a courtesan, not the genteel lady Sir Mark believes. Desperate to be free of a life she despises, she seizes her chance when Mark's enemies make her an offer she can't refuse: seduce Mark and tarnish his good name, and a princely sum will be hers. Yet as she comes to know the man she's sworn to destroy, Jessica will be forced to choose between the future she needs…and the love she knows is impossible.
What worked for me: This book really was a delight to read. It had beautiful, lyrical prose and some really apt and lovely analogies (for example, regarding lust and peddlars). Sir Mark Turner is a genuinely good man. He is not weak or priggish or boring, which could perhaps be suggested by the fact that he wrote "A Gentleman's Guide to Practical Chastity". He frankly acknowledges his faults and is terribly pained by the adulation of the masses which do not. He is a man who is tempted but chooses not to act on it - Jessica is his greatest temptation yet but he does not fall. He is in control of himself. Self control may not sound all that sexy but on Mark Turner, it is. For Jessica, who has beena plaything for men for years, it is a novel experience indeed to be courted and listened to and treated as an equally important person.
Stories which are all about lies and misunderstandings can frustrate me but enough information was revealed from time to time that I didn't feel that way here. Also, Mark is not by any means, an idiot, so he sees through the obvious. What I liked most about him is that he wanted to see the woman behind the mask - it was that which seduced him. Not her looks or her body - sure, she was a beautiful woman, but there were other beautiful women who didn't call to him the way she did. That right there is so romantic - the idea that a man can truly see us and love us above anyone.
As much as I liked Mark, I liked Jessica also. She took responsibility for her own actions and didn't blame others for her predicament. I liked that she argued with Mark about this and the point she made was very valid. She either owns her mistakes and owns her life or she is just a pawn to be used or treasured depending on the whim of a man. I also liked that Mark took steps that she would not feel unequal to him in future and he encouraged her to shine and to 'do better' (but not in a moral way, rather to be the best she could be).
What didn't: I thought the ending was a little abrupt and underdone, but then again the book was already over 400 pages, so maybe I'm just being greedy. Generally, I do like more of the happy together than less though.
Of necessity, the sex scenes (which were very well done - the man pays attention!) were pretty much at the end of the book. So, it did feel, just a little bit, like I was served up 2 or 3 large desserts all at once with only a small gap in between. But really, is that a complaint? After all, I love dessert!
What else: After I finished this, I immediately went and bought Unveiled (so I guess that tells you something) and I can hardly wait for Smite's book.