Back to cleaning up reviews from the GR conversion. I read and reviewed this sometime last year.
I listened to this book as an unabridged audio which was read most skillfully by Rebecca De Leeuw. She did a beautiful job bringing the story to life, voicing Jessica with all of the vulnerability and sensuality necessary for her character while managing to make Mark come across as masculine, confident and likable. It would have been so easy to voice him as an uptight prig and I’m so very glad the narrator went down a different path.
When Mark Turner wrote a book on the importance of male chastity the last thing he expected was to become knighted by the Queen and the most sought after bachelor in the ton. Now he can’t make a move without an over-eager parent foisting their young innocent daughter upon him and having it all described in the gossip rags. Being the only adult male virgin (or the only one who admits it) in the ton isn’t easy and he’s gained a huge following who have created a chastity club all in his honor. Poor Mark. In an attempt to find some peace he leaves behind the madness and returns to the small village where he was raised.
Mark is used to being tempted. “Chastity is hard” and he’s the first to admit it. It seems the ton have nothing better to do than plan his downfall so Mark isn’t surprised when Mrs. Jessica Farley, the sexy shunned widow new to village (shunned because she dresses provocatively), puts the moves on him. But he is disappointed. He liked her, she appeared smart and witty and he was certain she was hiding something painful behind her façade of experience and sensuality. He had hoped she was different from all the rest but she has secrets that are just as painful as his and she needs to discredit and deflower him in order to live a life without selling her body. Will they overcome the odds stacked against them and find true love?
Well, if they didn’t I would’ve been pretty damn disappointed! But it’s the getting there that is all the fun. Just like it’s prequel Unveiled, this one features two characters who have the odds stacked against them and a world of secrets as well as a constant shadow of betrayal hanging over them. Though the reasons for it all differ from Unveiled, the formula is the same and it was a little tiresome to read those bits directly on the heels of all of the impending betrayal looming in Unveiled. But that’s my only complaint. The rest of the book is fabulous and Mark will go down as one of the most understanding, kind and self-effacing heroes ever put to page. When they first meet Jessica introduces herself as “a very wicked woman” and “the town disgrace” and in return he says “I speak with the tongues of 1000 angels, butterflies follow me wherever I go, birds sing when I take a breath.” Both are quick witted and a perfect match and from the beginning you can feel the connection and the genuine “like” between them. There’s more than lust drawing them together but when the sparks begin to fly, boy do you ever feel them.
I was rooting for these two to find their happy ever after from the moment they first met but things don’t go easy for them. Crap happens (of course!) that nearly broke my heart but in the end love wins the day and that’s why I read romance. This is great love story definitely worth a read.