“Even the most careful lady can be swayed by a scoundrel . . . Lady Phaedra Northampton is a proper English miss—but burdened by a dark secret. She’s buried her shame in running her wealthy brother, Lord Nash’s, households while hiding behind a sharp wit and dull wardrobe . . . until a reckless village maid’s disappearance pulls her into London’s seedy underworld. A former mercenary and jaded spy-for-hire, Tristan Talbot, Lord Avoncliffe, now does little, and manages to do it scandalously. Though Tristan’s an out and out rogue, when his dying father begs him to delve into the secrets behind a notorious brothel—a perfect task for his talents!—Tristan can’t refuse. Is the brothel a front for a notorious Russian spy ring? Tristan is on the hunt—until his path collides with the oh-so-tempting Lady Phae. Soon what should be a simple assignment becomes deliciously complicated . . . when deception and desire lead to an explosive passion—and deadly foes!”
She is a sassy spinster who is skilled at mom/sister/Season avoidance and has only come to town to uncover the whereabouts of a MIA barmaid. He is a rogue brought to his father’s sickbed to fulfill the role of proxy. And when they meet, fireworks ignite.
I love how Carlyle tantalizes us throughout the book with tidbits of information that make us yearn to discover the hero and heroine’s secrets. She keeps this suspense neatly threaded through the entire story, when she beautifully weaves it all together in a crunchy, deliciously satisfying ending. Like a chocolate covered pretzel (yum!), this book offers both the salty and the sweet.
Carlyle is a true talent who not only carefully adheres to historical details but also moves the plot along with excellent crafting. This latest effort as the first in a series is fun and features some wicked, delightful and unique romping. That being said, it is not for those who are looking for a more vanilla or G rated romance. The subject matter sometimes veers towards the seedier underbelly of human sexuality, which won’t be appealing for every reader and is definitely not for the younger crowd.
However mature readers who appreciate a little swirl in their whirl will find her unique spin on romance refreshing and a bit naughty.
The characters are both likeable and while there is a little of the genre tradition of mixed signals or lack of honest communication as a plot mechanism it is never enough to frustrate the reader.
I definitely recommend this first chapter in her new trilogy…an entertaining keep you up all night-er!