Friday, March 29, 2013

Secrets of a Wedding Night

Secrets of a Wedding Night by Valerie Bowman

The entire ton believes that Lily Andrews, the recently widowed Countess of Merrill, was left a fortune upon her husband's death, but in fact she was left penniless. In order to support her hodgepodge household and provide a fabulous debut ball for her sister, Annie, she decides to write a pamphlet to raise funds. Entitled "Secrets of a Wedding Night" the pamphlet is intended to expose young ladies to the truth about the marriage bed and about marriage bed, but when it leads the Marquis of Colton's fiance to call off the wedding, all the bets are off. Years ago Devon Morgan had been in love with Lily, but she had left him to marry the very wealthy Duke of Merrill and this recent escapade further cements his dislike of her. Lily has an entirely different perspective on their past relationship as she had been prepared to run off to Gretna with Devon before he abandoned her with nothing but a note and she is not looking forward to another confrontation with him.

Devon is determined to prove to Lily that she is entirely wrong about what happens between a husband and wife and issues an ultimatum: write a retraction or he will use all of his powers of seduction to show her the truth. Lily is fairly confident in her abilities to avoid seduction but when Colton begins to show up at society events and steps in when society proves cruel to her sister she begins to thaw towards him. But when Lily learns that Colton is involved in high stakes gambling, the exact thing that brought her own father to ruin, all of her fears about marriage and about getting involved with Colton, resurface. Colton has his own motives for going to seedy gambling establishments and though he knows it hurts Lily he cannot go back on his word. To save Annie from scandal Devon and Lily are forced to proclaim their own engagement and both realize that they were lied and hurt in the past in order to separate them and now they are determined to let nothing stand in their way.

Lily was a wonderful heroine and I loved that she had so much pride and I liked the uniqueness of having a character who was truly forced to be frugal. I admired her strength in the face of adversity, her pride in refusing to give in to the ton, and her loyalty to those around her, including an odd assortment of servants. Her love for her sister was inspiring, but at times tested the bounds of credulity as it became more and more clear that her sister was determined to ruin her reputation. Devon was an equally wonderful hero and even with a checkered past, he avoided falling into complete dissolution which was a nice change of pace. He has his secrets and his brooding moments, but he was refreshing and kept me interested in what he was doing and how he was going to make things up to Lily. I was a little turned off by the gambling and though his motives were explained I felt like it would have been a nice little gesture on his part to let the past go and focus on his future with Lily.

Their relationship was incredible and I loved reading about these two rediscovering long last feelings and falling in love with each other all over again. I really felt like they developed a relationship based on the present, and not their old feelings, and that they each showed in little ways throughout the story how much they loved the other. There was some sex and it was pretty hot and there was steam spread throughout the novel and although the circumstances surrounding her virginal state are explained away it was still a little ridiculous. The pamphlet was a nice little touch to get them back together, a tad far fetched, but nonetheless amusing and served as a nice little talking point for other members of the ton throughout the story. The novel was well written and featured some very intriguing side characters, including her sister who's stories I can't wait to read.

Rating: I enjoyed this book greatly, especially the protagonists who were well developed and obviously destined for a life of happiness together.

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