passion rating: hot
Dear Ms. Lee,
I fell head over heels in love with your hero in the very first few paragraphs of your novel, Wedded in Scandal.
“Yer wants to go in there? But, er, why?”Robert Percy, Viscount Redhill, ignored the mine manager and began stripping off his coat and gloves. They were in the shack outside a coal mine that his father had purchased in a fit of drunken entrepreneurship. Sadly, the earl didn’t fall down in his cups like a normal person. No, instead he bought businesses, which Robert then had to save. And given that no one in his family knew anything about coal mining, this was going to be a challenge indeed.But the first step in a new venture—or after one of his father’s drinking binges—was to inspect the new property. So he was determined to go down into the hellhole of a mine despite Mr. Hutchins’s objections. He’d already pulled off his coat and folded it neatly to the side, but after one glance outside at the filthy employees all lined up near the mine entrance, he stripped off his waistcoat as well. He would have taken off his fine lawn shirt, but he couldn’t greet his new employees half naked.
However, by the end of the second chapter, I no longer thought he was a paragon of male perfection. By the end of Chapter Two, I thought he was a pompous prick. I was wrong both times—Robert isn’t a jerk, although he does tend to arrogantly overwhelm most everyone he encounters, nor is he a dreamboat peer. By the end of the book, I liked him and understood why the heroine, Helaine Talbott, not only fell but stayed head over heels in love with him.
Helaine has had a difficult past decade. When she was in her teens, her father, a drinker and a cheat, stole a case of fabulous brandy the Earl of Bedford had sent as a gift to his son, a soldier finding for England in Spain—Helaine’s father, the Earl of Chelmorton, had a drinking buddy in charge of certain military shipments to Spain and he somehow used information from his friend to nab the booze. Helaine’s dad, immoral and stupid, then threw a party and carelessly bragged about the brandy’s provenance. The Earl of Bedford, an unforgiving type, retaliated by socially destroying Helaine’s father, now known as the Thief of the Ton. Her father subsequently vanished and, within a few short months, Helaine and her mother were tossed out of the ton, and found themselves in the poorhouse. Helaine’s now business partner, a seamstress named Wendy (there’s a mystery there that’s never explained) bailed Helaine and her mother out of the poorhouse and suggested that Helaine and she—Wendy—open a dressmaking business together. Thrilled at a chance for survival, Helaine said yes. For years, Helaine has supported herself and her mother but, each day, Helaine worries the shop could fail and she and her mother will be again without resources. As a dressmaker and shop owner, Helaine has completely left her aristocratic past behind; in fact she keeps her past rank a secret, sure the ton wouldn’t buy clothes made, no matter how well, by the daughter of the Thief of the Ton. She uses the name Helen Mortimer and presents herself to clients as a lowly tradeswoman.
Helaine has one aristocratic client—the rest of her patrons are from the business class—the soon to be married Lady Gwendolyn, Robert’s sister. Gwen wants Helen to make Gwen’s trousseau—Helaine is really good at what she does. This would be marvelous for Helaine if she, Helaine, could convince merchants to let her buy fabrics and the like on credit which they, given that she’s a woman of no means, adamantly will not. Gwen, like all aristos, is used to buying on credit and so Helaine is stuck—she needs to make gorgeous creations for Gwen, but she can’t afford the fabrics she needs to do so. Desperate for funds, Helaine calls on Robert and asks if he will pay Gwen’s bills. Helaine tries to convince Robert the bills are for dresses already made, but he calls her bluff. Even worse, he accuses her of extortion, and readies to call the constable. Helaine implores him not to and tells him the truth, and he, still unwilling to pay her, says the best he can do is give Gwen control over her clothing funds and she, Gwen, can decide whether to pay Helaine. As the two bargain, Robert becomes enamored of the buxom, attractive Mrs. Mortimer. So much so, that, later the same day, he goes to Helaine’s shop with the intent of asking her to become his mistress.
Once there, he gets her alone and kisses her—she’s twenty-eight but knows nothing of passion. It’s a damn good kiss in part because
click here to read the rest of the reviewNearly a decade ago, his uncle had taught him how to seduce a woman with just his tongue. It had been the most useful lesson any relative had ever given him.