Collin Blackburn is determined to find Damien St. Caire, who killed Colin's brother John in a duel. When John had found Lady Alexandra Hutchinson, a young woman he had developed strong feelings for, in the arms of St. Claire, he challenged him to a duel and John lost his life. Alex was ruined and Damien fled to the continent and now John is determined to find the man who killed his brother. He is attempting to track him down but he is eventually forced to turn to Alex herself for answers because he knows she is helping Damien as he lives in exile in France. He is not expected to find a headstrong young woman who dresses like a man, works her brother's estate as the land manager, and is not at all scared of expressing her sexual needs. Collin knows he needs to stay away from her, as she is a Duke's sister and he was born a bastard despite having been recently named a lord, but it is very difficult to put aside the immense attraction he feels for her.
Despite his best efforts he succumbs to Alex when she asks him to spend a couple of weeks with her at a family cabin, just the two of them. It is there that the two really begin to fall in love and certainly enjoy getting it on quite a lot. It is also where Collin begins to wonder if he can put aside his back ground and hers because he knows that the idea of her with another man is going to kill him. When Alex gets sick and he takes her to her brother's estate, they agree to get married to avoid a horrible scandal, and while each is individually excited about the prospect they each believe the other was forced into it. Collin is terrified that Alex will leave him when she discovers that he is not exciting, that he is not wealthy, that he is not the well-to-do gentleman that someone like her would normally be with. This drives a wedge between the newly married couple and things go from bad to worse as Collin's jealousy begins to spiral out of control. It takes a deadly confrontation for each to realize that they do love each other and nothing can stand in their way.
I read the Victoria Dahl books in reverse order, but it works out fine as you didn't really have to have read any of them to make it work. This one turned out to be just as enjoyable as the other two of hers that I have read. The plot was simple and yet she managed to do some great new things with it by making Collin's insecurities and Alex's incredibly exuberant personality such a large part of the story. Alex is amazing in so many different ways; she's a genuinely happy and enjoyable person and yet she has this deeper side to her because of what had happened with her two previous loves. She is self-reflective, intelligent, and damn sure of herself and isn't afraid to go after what she wants and then admit that she's made a mistake. Collin was admittedly a little irritating with his guilt and his jealousy came perilously close to making him a right ass. He did and said some pretty awful things and I would have liked to see more apology from him.
I have to admit that I absolutely loved that Alex was so overtly sexual, liked that she enjoyed sex, and was not scared to act on her sexual impulses. She was a virgin (shocker!) but she was far from the innocent of most regency heroines. Dahl did what most authors do for romance heroes by explaining that the feelings around the sex were just extra special with this particular person which does end up working just as well for the woman as for the man. So basically the sex in this book is steaming hot and there is plenty of it throughout the book and it goes well with the flow of the story. The side-plot involving Damien St. Claire served as the method for getting them together, however it really didn't seem like an all important part of the story and was resolved in a very short end scene that ended as expected. There was also a nice little side romance going on in the book and a secondary villain that added a lot to the book and I really liked them. Lastly, I really like Dahl's writing style- very enjoyable and readable.
Rating: Another great win for Dahl. A little misstep with the jealousy so if you aren't into angst it's not for you, but a great book overall.