Her wicked ways were the talk of the ton
Teresa, Dowager Marchioness of Darent, is rumored to have exhausted her four deceased husbands with her insatiable needs. So it's no surprise that every rake in the ton wants to bed her. If they only knew…through clever marriages to men who would ask nothing of her physical self, Tessa has remained rather innocent in the ways of the bedroom. But now she's on the verge of losing everything and wants to take care of the stepson she's grown to adore.
Enter Captain Owen Purchase. The handsome American adventurer has come into the title of Viscount Rothbury. And the rumors surrounding his injuries at sea suggest that he could fit Tessa's requirements. But little does Tessa realize that the gossipmongers are wrong. She just might lose her heart, and her desires, to the most unlikely of men….
Tess Darent is seen as a featherbrained member of the ton whose reputation is basically in the toilet. While she hates the fact that her rep is so damaged she wants everyone to think she doesn’t have a thought in her head - that way she can continue with her reformist cause and no one will be the wiser.
Tess is visited by a member of the Ton who wants to marry her step-daughter. Her step-daughter is only 15 however and Tess is not about to let some old lecher touch her family. She approaches Viscount Rothbury with a marriage proposal for numerous reasons. First and foremost on her mind is her step-daughter and the fact that she thinks that marrying Rothbury would protect Sybil from the lecher and clean up her reputation. Second is that since he is looking for the cartoonist who is wanted for sedition and if Tess marries him he won’t be able to testify against her. Third, and most important to Tess, is the fact that she thinks that he is impotent – since she wants a marriage in name only, this is perfect.
Owen Purchase is an American who inherited his title. He feels a bit hemmed in with all the rules and regulations of the Ton but he is a rule follower so he adjusts. He is helping at the Home Office and looking for Jupiter who is the cartoonist who is pushing for reform. The head of the Home Office isn’t putting up with it and wants Jupiter no matter how he gets him. Owen figures out pretty quickly that Tess is Jupiter so feels she’s completely bluffing when she proposes marriage. When Owen sets out to make her come clean he realizes that Tess isn’t the person she’s thought to be…by anyone – even her family. She’s fun, loving, adventurous and quite intelligent. He finds himself liking her but still confused as to what to do about her and the fact that she’s Jupiter.
Jupiter aside the couple find themselves liking each other more and more. When Owen moves to kiss her however Tess figures out that she was very wrong on the impotent issue. This opens a whole other can of worms between Tess and Owen. When Tess is betrayed and it comes to light that she is Jupiter what will happen to her, to Owen and to everyone else involved in the reformers movement?
Let me start off with our hero, Owen. He was wonderful. He was written as having temper issues from his past that he had come to terms with and conquered but we didn’t really see but a handful of anger issues. He was really a great guy who could see people for who they really were and not just what was on the surface. It would have been so easy to dismiss Tess as being a dimwit but he took the time to listen and observe it made me like him that much more. He was just a great hero!
Tess had issues galore! She had had a horrible past with a nasty ass husband who treated her like an object and a plaything and that had made her have a horrible fear of intimacy. She didn’t like to be touched, she didn’t have a great relationship with her sisters because she was not only jealous of them but she couldn’t be forthright about her past because she was ashamed. She had almost embraced her bad reputation because it allowed her to be sneaky and look like she was going off with her lover when really she was sneaking off to do reformist duties. She was a complicated woman but I found myself liking her strength along side her vulnerability. It was a well written combination.
The story had its ups and downs for me with slower parts of the novel then followed up with more interesting ones. I thought that the parts about Tess and her reformist issues were ignored for too long in the middle of the book while the romance was taking place. While I really liked the romance a lot I would have liked to have seen them blend a bit more. As far as Tess’s intimacy issues – I thought they were settled rather quickly. For someone who didn’t even liked to be touched Tess gave into her lusts with Owen faster than I thought she would. I think it was the fact that she knew he loved her that made the difference but it felt a bit rushed. to me.
This is my first novel by Ms. Cornick and I have to say I liked it. The romance was quite sweet and touching and I loved Owen and Tess together. I can definitely say that I’ll be reading more from this author in the future.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5