The Club by Sharon Page
Jane Beaumont, the widowed Lady Sherridan, goes to the notorious erotic club run by Madame Brougham to find her friend Delphina, Lady Treyworth, who has been missing for over a month. Jane knows that her friend's husband had been taking her to this club and making her perform sexual acts that made her very uncomfortable and he shared her with several other lords there while showing off his submissive wife. At the club Jane runs into Christian, Lord Wickham, who is Del's brother and he is just as determined to save Del as Jane is. Unfortunately no one at the club is eager or willing to share information with the two although they do realize there is definitely a more seedy underbelly to the club and something quite sinister lurking underneath everything. Christian remembers Jane as the beautiful young woman who constantly challenged him when they were younger but she has changed greatly since being beaten down by a man 25 years her senior. Jane was the one who challenged Christian to become a better person and thus the reason he moved to India.
Like most of the ton Jane has bought into the rumors that Christian has spent his entire life sleeping with his friends wives and murdering men in duels, but she begins to learn that many of these rumors, while true on the surface, have a much deeper story behind them and that Christian is far from the Lord Wicked that many believe. And after 8 years of marriage to a man who made her feel worthless and unimportant she loves that she and Christian are partners working together for a mutual goal. By working together they manage to flip a few informants and find out that Madame Brougham also owns a sanatorium where woman whose husbands' cruelty has driven them mad reside, and that several young woman and prostitutes have gone missing. When the finally find the sanatorium they manage to rescue Del but unfortunately her husband still has claim to her and demands that she be sent back to him. When Treyworth ends up dead Christian is the prime suspect and Christian and Jane are in for a huge surprise when someone from Jane's past reappears to ruin her and they must both in turn save the other and find love.
Jane and Christian were both very well developed and very well written characters whom I absolutely loved. Jane is still recovering from her mentally, physically, and verbally abusive marriage and throughout the course of the book she really undergoes this amazing transformation and gains strengths and fights for herself, for Del, and for Christian. And it is so much better because it is her interactions with Christian that really bring out this great side in her and allows her to spread her wings. Christian was a little more difficult as he definitely was a man whore, and there are quite a few difficult things to explain in his past, but Page dose get through them throughout the course of the novel and does manage to explain them away adequately if not completely to my satisfaction. At least enough to make him good enough for Jane. There is a little awkwardness surrounding the fact that Christian is not actually his father's child as his mother was already pregnant and this is kind of used an excuse and really just gets in the way and drags on far too long.
The plot about finding Del and the club was a very large chunk of the book and I think it could have been trimmed down a bit as the book was a tad bit on the long side. It was obviously an incredibly important part as it both brought them together and served as a catalyst to them falling in love with the other. It was Jane's strength fighting to find and free Del that was part of why Christian fell in love with her and it was Christian treating her like an equal and respecting her that made Jane realize that love with him was possible. This is definitely the way that mystery extra plots in romance novels are supposed to be written. I was a little surprised at the lack of kink in the sex between Jane and Christian as there was so much of it in the Club. I thought it would be a little comparison with loving kink and abusive kink, but there wasn't. There was still plenty of sex and it was quite hot and a little bit adventurous, if not quite as much so as I had expected.
Rating: Quite a good book with a remarkable heroine. A little too long with a little too much extra non- romance in it, but really almost outstanding.