Friday, July 27, 2012
Wedded in Scandal
Lady Helaine has been living as dress designer, Mrs. Mortimer, ever since her father, a member of the peerage, was outed as being a war profiteer, and she has been hiding from her past and trying to scrape by. Her shop is given a boost when Lady Gwen Percy decides to purchase her gowns from her but her shop cannot operate by buying and selling on credit so she decides to ask Gwen's brother, Lord Robert Percy, Viscount Redhill, for an extension of funds. Robert has always prided himself on being upright and cannot explain why he has an completely overwhelming desire for the outspoken, strong-willed, and very inappropriate dress maker. Helaine want nothing to do with Robert, except the little contact necessary due to their professional relationship, but Robert inserts himself into her life by insisting on protecting her from dubious characters in the fabric business. Helaine is terrified he will find out who she is and tries desperately to keep herself aloof from Robert but she cannot deny their is a pull between them, a deep connection.
Robert has secrets of his own as he has engaged in his interest in healing by operating a former brothel as a hospital for sick women and children. Because he took on the responsibilities of his title at a very young age, since his father was a drunken wastrel whom Robert kicked out of the house, he had no opportunity to explore his passion and he knows that the ton would scorn his endeavors. With Helaine he feels he can let down his guard, he can let her into his secret life and be free of the weight of his title and the pressures he is under with his family. It is not long before Robert realizes that Helaine is hiding something from him and it is not hard for him to guess what, but he wants to earn her trust before he confronts her. Helaine is unsure how to reconcile her past as a lady with her new life as a possible courtesan and mistress to a powerful man. But Robert knows that Helaine is so much more than a mistress and no matter how much she believes she does not deserve him, he is determined to prove that they both deserve each other.
Helaine was a phenomenal heroine; she was very adult, very confident, and very accomplished and yet it was her insecurities and fears that made her a well- rounded, ratable, and very lovable character. The struggle between her lady-like virtue and her desire for Robert was very well written and was very realistically portrayed and avoided being overemphasised. I was worried I would not be able to get into the dress making endeavor but it was presented as a very real profession that she enjoyed and she was good in and served as a wonderful way to introduce our two protagonists. Robert was almost as enjoyable, but I believe it's always harder to make a truly interesting hero because there is much less wiggle room with them. He had the obligatory title and responsibilities complete with the hidden depths and secret side that only the heroine can bring into the light. However, it was impossible not to like Robert even if he wasn't precisely unique and I found nothing objectionable about him.
Their relationship was fun and sexy and I really enjoyed reading about Robert and Helaine getting to know each other and falling in love. It progressed naturally and they were both incredibly well suited for each other and complemented each other perfectly. They spent a lot of time together, in many different circumstances, which I feel is very important to showing how the characters suit each other and it was clear they suited very well. There was some sex between them, certainly lots of scenes leading up to them which Helaine stopped because of her virtuous upbringing (which did get a tad annoying). It definitely was not gratuitous and was fairly hot but not really anything special. I liked that there was no secondary plot and that the entire book focused on Helaine and Robert and their relationship with each other and their lives. The writing was very well done and it was fast and fun without being too frivolous.
Rating: A very enjoyable book with a wonderful heroine with a hero who was very well suited for her and a relationship I definitely rooted for.