Someone to Watch Over Me by Lisa Kleypas
When Grant Morgan discovers that the floater in the river is notorious London courtesan Vivien Duvall he is excited at the prospect of getting revenge on the woman who humiliated him by claiming that she had rejected his advances. Things don't go precisely as planned though when Vivien wakes up with no memory of what happened to her when she was attacked and left for dead and no memory of her life at all. It is Grant who reminds her that she was a prostitute available to the highest bidder and Vivien is horrified. Her actions are far from those he and his staff expected from a courtesan as she appears modest, grateful for the help the servants offer, and, contrary to what he had been told, ashamed of her past and the idea of having sex for money. But he still goes on to tell her that he and she were lovers, although he does tell her that they don't need to resume that part of their relationship immediately. Her un-whore-like behavior is quickly changing Grant's mind about this woman he had previously despised.
It doesn't take long at all for Grant to know that he's made a horrible mistake even if he does refuse to admit it to himself. With no clues as to what happened to Vivien Grant interviews her former clients and decides to "shock" her would-be-murder with a surprising experience at a ball where Vivien discovers that she had been pregnant. After the ball Grant admits that he's fallen for Vivien and simultaneously discovers that there is no way his Vivien is the real one (she's a virgin!). Conveniently Grant also discovers a letter the real Vivien had written to a cottage and when he arrives he discovers the real Vivien. Victoria, as he now knows her to be has been left in the keeping another Bow Street runner while Grand does his investigating and it isn't long before Grant is forced to rush back to London to rescue Victoria from the man who had mistaken her for her twin sister. A heroic rescue attempt ensues and when all the cards are lain on the table Victoria is the one left with the decision to make: whether she is going to move on with her life or stay stuck in the her lonely cottage.
Surprisingly enough this is the first Kleypas I have reviewed on here as she was at one point my favorite historical romance writer. While that has changed I still have a soft spot in my heart for her and read all of her books that I can get my hands on. Her books are universally satisfying, sweet, well-written, and interesting and fast enough for a fun read. This book contains all of those elements as well as some great characters. I had never before realized though that her steamy scenes are so ... formulaic is the only way I can think to describe it. My guess is that if I lined them all up and read the scenes one right after teh other I would notice immense similarities- something that many authors do, I'm sure, but it just seems so obvious in this novel. Nothing too exciting in that department here. There is, of course, a great little bit of angst over Vivien being a possible whore and Grant possibly not wanting to be with a woman he believes is a whore.
There seems to be an okay now in romance novels for prostitutes and courtesans to be acceptable heroines (To Seduce an Angel by Mary Balogh, Your Scandalous Ways by Loretta Chase) but Kleypas does a kind of two-step around this problem by making it obvious from the beginning that there is some sort of mix-up. We know from the get go that we are going to discover there is a mistake and that Vivien is going to turn out to be as sweet and innocent as she seems. Throughout the book we are left in no doubt that Vivien Duvall is the worst sort of whore (not one with a heart of gold) as she breaks hearts, runs through money, plays with men's affections, is completely full of herself, and (gasp) may have terminated a pregnancy). But I did like that Grant fell in love with the new and improved Vivien before learning that she wasn't in fact Vivien even if I was a little irritated by Vivien's wishy-washiness over Grant's marriage proposal.
Rating: Mediocre in every way, except for the hero whom I love love love, but ultimately a fun and fast little romp.