This book, the second in a series, was quite fun. Baron Sebastian Thorne has happily been a rogue for all of his mature life, since women began propositioning him when he was sixteen. When his fiancée eloped with his best friend, his ego took a hit as well as his reputation. He’s not necessarily on the path of reformation when the book begins, he’s simply trying to stay out of trouble. Then, after a few chance meetings with Helena, he decides that a little liaison with her would not be terrible.
Helena, Lady Prestwick, is a widow with a lot of money and a good reputation, and she intends to keep it that way. Without her position in good society, she won’t be able to provide a good life for her younger sisters. She most assuredly cannot have an affair with a rogue while she’s in town, that would ruin her future plans. Helena has a lot of guilt for leaving her sisters behind when she got married, and she intends to make up for it as soon as she can find them. Unfortunately, her investigation has led her to brothels, which she can’t exactly enter.
Sebastian is perceptive enough to realize that Helena is hiding something. Because he’s so intrigued by her, he pursues her until she reveals part of her secret. Then the two strike a bargain: Sebastian will search the brothels if Helena will sponsor his sister in Society. Since Helena won’t allow Sebastian to come to her home, even secretly in the middle of the night, he needs to attend functions in order to report on his progress. This leads to him facing his ex-fiancé and his ex-best friend several times, which he doesn’t handle very well at first.
I thought both characters were very likable. Helena was desperately good, which could have been annoying, but she was tempered by her Scottish servant Fergus and her willingness to step into any brawl. She was focused entirely on her plan, but she was kind enough to let Sebastian know why she couldn’t get involved with him, rather than lead him on. Sebastian was similarly focused on uncovering all of Helena (literally and emotionally), which altered his normal course of pursuit and helped him mature.
Because of the discreet way in which they danced around each other, Sebastian and Helena manage to fall in love before they’ve barely kissed, which is a great indicator of a successful relationship. Sebastian wins over Fergus, the Scot, while Helena wins over his sister and pretty much everyone else. By the end, they’re quite adorable.
I haven’t read the previous book, which focused on Sebastian’s ex-fiancé and friend, but I didn’t have trouble following the plot of this book. I’m sure I would have had an even better grasp of Sebastian’s sense of betrayal had I read it, and enjoyed the closure that this book brought, but I enjoyed it as a standalone just the same. If you like Regencies, I would recommend reading both books — not because you need to, but because you’ll get twice the Sebastian. Trust me, he’ll be worth it.
Janell lives north of Seattle with her husband, two smallish sons, and an aging cat. She works very hard at not having a real job by reading romance novels, reviewing them, and occasionally writing snippets of one. You can find her reviews at Red Hot Books (redhotbooks.com), follow her on Twitter (Janell_Suth), and follow her writing progress on her poorly updated blog (janellsutherland.com).
IN BED WITH A ROGUE (Rival Rogues Book #2) by Samantha Grace/Sourcebooks/September 2