Lorraine Heath’s last release, The Duke and The Lady in Red, was so good I cried buckets of tears and recommended it to almost every person I know who reads historical romance. No joke, I loved it that much. So I can’t stress enough how anxious I was for the first book in her newest series, The Hellions of Haversham, which also happened to feature a heroine I’ve been looking forward to, Miss Minerva Dodger.
Miss Dodger is the product of an unconventional upbringing. As the daughter of Jack Dodger, a man who grew up on the streets, but eventually became a wealthy club owner and the Dowager Duchess of Lovingdon, she’s always straddled two very different worlds. Raised to be independent and capable, she knows her own mind and is not afraid to go her own way and do her own thing. She’s smart and strong and supported by parents who have only her best interests at heart. She’s also spent six seasons on the marriage mart and still hasn’t found what she’s looking for, a suitor who is passionate, devoted and in love. Fortune hunters aren’t welcome and because of her enormous dowry that’s exactly who has courted her for years. Life as a spinster looms ahead, but she wants just one night to lose herself in a lover. A visit to the mysterious and secretive Nightingale Club just might be her only chance to experience passion.
The Duke of Ashebury was orphaned at a young age and sent to live with a friend of his father’s; A madman who shouted at ghosts and left his young charges to run wild across the countryside. Ashebury’s only companions growing up were two young orphaned boys and the son of his guardian. Their wild exploits have led them to be known in adulthood as the Hellions of Havisham. The Earl of Greyling is the only member of their small group who has settled down into marriage and taken on the responsibility of his title. Ashebury is no stranger to the Nightingale Club, in fact, he often goes there to find a woman who will allow him to revel in his passion. The women he indulges in all wear masks, as per the rules of the establishment, but he remembers characteristics about each one. On the evening when he first meets Minerva he’s looking for a woman with beautiful, long legs. What he gets is a mysterious lady who intrigues him like no other and even though things don’t progress as planned, he can’t help but be interested in discovering her identity.
I adore Lorraine Heath historical romances. I will forever be a fangirl. I’m pretty sure Minerva Dodger is my favorite of her heroines, and that’s saying a lot considering I’ve read this author for years. Minerva is intelligent and independent and is not afraid to kick a guy in the nads when the situation calls for it. Seriously, how do you not love a woman like that? She and Ashebury have a very nice slow burn romance that heats up the pages and will have readers on the edge of their seats wondering when and how and where… Just because they meet at a mysterious sex club doesn’t mean that the sexy times begin immediately. Oh no, there is a lot of sensual back and forth, kissing, touching, and getting to know you first.
Minerva thinks her plain looks aren’t inspiring to the opposite sex and her straightforwardness usually gets her weird looks and side eye glances. She’s not the type of woman who inspires a man to lust and love. But Ashebury doesn’t know who she is when he meets her and it’s the very things that set her apart from other women in Society that intrigue him and keep him coming back for more. He also has an artist’s eye and when confronted with an unmasked Minerva at a party he’s pretty sure he’s discovered the identity of the woman all in white from the Nightingale.
Just a quick mention that I enjoyed Ashe’s artistic abilities and how he viewed the world, which I believe led Minerva to see a different side of herself. It was unique and interesting.
Each has their own insecurities and challenges to overcome in order to trust in their new passionate relationship. Ashebury will discover some things about his circumstances that make courting Minerva very challenging, but in the end their happily ever after is quite lovely. The way Ashebury solves his problem and gets Minerva to believe in his love and faithfulness left me with a big ole’ smile on my face.
My only complaint isn’t about this couple or their love story at all. There are hints of who the next couple (or could be book three, not sure) might be and I can honestly say I’m not very enthused at the idea of these two getting together. That’s not to say I won’t be reading the next book in the series because of course I will. I trust in Lorraine Heath and her storytelling abilities, she hasn’t let me down yet. Final Grade- B+
“I don’t want to disappoint you.”
He slid up her, took her lobe between his teeth, and she moaned low.
“You’re in my arms,” he whispered hoarsely. “How could I be disappointed?”