Thursday, May 1, 2014

Between a Rake and a Hard Place - Connie Mason & Mia Harlow (Sourcebooks Casablanca - Jan 2014)

Series: Regency Rakes (Book 3)

Lady Serena's List of Forbidden Pleasures
Attend an exclusively male club.
Smoke a cigar.
Have a fortune told by gypsies.
Dance the scandalous waltz.

Sir Jonah Sharp thinks Lady Serena Osbourne will be just like any other debutante, and seducing her will be one of the easiest services he's ever done for the Crown. Then he catches her wearing trousers and a mustache in his gentleman's club and she demands he teach her to smoke a cigar. But what will truly be Jonah's undoing is finding out he's an item on her list too, which makes him determined to bring her all the forbidden pleasures she can handle.

Fun book to read.  Serena is one of several young women in line to become the wife of one of the royal princes.  While she's not excited about the idea she knows her duty to the family and will do so if necessary.  However, she's got a bucket list of things she wants to do before she's trapped in marriage, if she can manage it without getting caught.  She starts out by disguising herself as a man and sneaking into Boodles gentlemen's club, but is discovered by Jonah.  Rather than give her away, he helps her escape before she is unmasked.  

Jonah has been watching her for several days.  He is being blackmailed into stopping any chance she has of becoming a royal bride. He initially thinks she's like all the other debutantes, but soon realizes that she is smart and adventurous.  He finds himself being talked into helping her with her list.

I loved Serena and Jonah together. They have great chemistry that builds as the book goes on. They also have some great conversations that show just how well suited they are for each other. Serena is willing to do what her father wants, but she also wants to live a little before she does.  Her initial meeting with Jonah shows her that she can trust him with her secrets.  I loved seeing her surprise him with her list and what she wants help with. Jonah is conflicted. He knows what he has to do in order to prevent scandal from ruining his family.  But he is fascinated by Serena and her zest for life. He wants to help her with her list, any of which would ruin her if found out, but finds himself wanting to protect her from scandal, not cause it.

As the two of them spend time together they get closer. The love is a relatively slow growing one. Serena sees an honorable man who seems to be haunted by something that isn't letting him be happy. She also finds herself thinking about him far more than is wise for someone in her position.  Her feelings for Jonah are growing and the idea of a royal marriage is losing its appeal by the day. I loved seeing her get Jonah to open up to her and how much she wanted to relieve his pain.  Jonah's work for the government has worn him out.  He's not so sure anymore that everything he did was for the better and it is eating at his soul.  As he gets to know Serena he starts to care for her and doesn't want to cause her harm.  I loved the way he did everything he could to help her with her list (and then some!) without risking her reputation.  His love for her really shows in the way he wants her to make her decision without any pressure from him.

This also concludes the ongoing mystery through all three books.  We finally learn the story behind the battle that has created the problem for the three heroes.  The bad guy is unmasked and stopped through a very interesting twist in the plot.  The final confrontation was very good and I liked the way it turned out, especially Serena's part and what she said.

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