Leah Elliot sells secrets to survive. Donning boy's clothes, she uncovers society scandals for a London gossip rag to support herself and her sister, who were left destitute after their father's death. When she meets the dashing—and perhaps dangerous—Hal Forster, the Marquess of Denby, she learns he may be involved in treason. The rumor is too valuable not to sell, despite her attraction to him…
Hal does have a secret, but he's no traitor: he's a spy embroiled in a mystery, seeking the man who killed his contact in France. He sees the alluring woman behind Leah's disguise at once but is intrigued enough to play along…until he realizes that she's the source of the rumors interfering with his investigation and forcing him into an unwanted betrothal.
Now, Hal and Leah must work together to draw out the culprit and undo the damage caused by Leah's gossip. Or will their passion only cause more scandal?
Reviewed By: J9
In a Nutshell: Solid historical romance with a nicely liberated heroine I liked, along with a decent action plot.
The Set Up: Leah and her sister left London after the suspicious death of her father. Leah struggles to financially care for her family so she selling secrets to a gossip newspaper and gathers this gossip dressed as a boy. Leah’s latest target is Hal, the Marquess of Denby who acts like a traitor but is really a British spy. Now Hal and Leah must work together to figure out who the real traitor is.
Why I Read this Book: Historical romance is the first romance genre I started reading so I’m always looking for new reads when I want something familiar.
What I Liked: I really like how liberated Leah is. She’s competent, smart, funny, poised and knows her own mind. Her father educated her by allowing her to read any book in his bookshop so she’s read some erotic text and she’s not ashamed to want the practical knowledge. I love the scene where Leah is convincing Hal to sexually experiment with her; it’s both sexy and humorous. I like Leah’s relationship with Hal because it was fairly straightforward. They didn’t lie or try to keep secrets, they talk about their issues like real people and to me this made the story much more enjoyable than the average historical romance.
What I Also Liked: I love Hal’s family. I enjoy strong family dynamics and Hal and his siblings have this. The brothers tease their little sister but truly care about her and each other. From the opening scene where Hal has sent his younger brother in to deal with the local harpies to the very end, the Foster family kept my attention. His brother and sister are going to be wonderful leads in the subsequent books and I look forward to reading their stories.
What I Didn’t Like: I do have to say though that the eroticism in this novel is slightly off-balance. The erotic interludes don’t start until well past the novel’s half-way mark but then happen constantly. The first half of the book was very G-rated and then suddenly the book swerves into X-rated territory, including voyeurism with anal sex. I liked the inclusion of erotic text from the period (Fanny Hill) as it adds a lot of sensuality to the romance. I just think erotic romance readers like me may not have the patience to wait over a hundred pages to get to the erotic romance. Likewise, I think closed-bedroom fans will enjoy the first half and be shocked at the second half.
IMO: Good historical romance so long as readers can overlook the slightly lopsided eroticism.