He stared down at her, his head, his heart and his body pulsing. He’d never felt anything like it, but those alluring eyes made him want to grab her and bite down hard. He inclined his head. “Good afternoon, Miss Grey. How are you?”
Derek Holbrook, Viscount Banfield, and his intended met the night of his father’s death. A seventeen year old, cocky young man with the world at his feet, he is immediately enchanted with the beautiful Miss Clementine Grey. She’s a fourteen year old girl who travels with her obscenely rich father around the world, but has no desire to ever be caught up in a passionate marriage. But their fathers are friends and in order to provide the funds the estate is desperately in need of, they’ve decided the two shall marry. So they will, but not until she grows up a bit. That’s when a courtship through letters begins that spans seven years.
When the time comes for their marriage to finally take place Derek is beyond pleased, there is nothing in the world he wants more than to finally make Clementine his wife. As the years have passed his affection for her has grown into love and his expectations are of a wonderful, warm marriage much like his parents. He has remained faithful to his soon to be bride, only visiting with a prostitute once so he can gain some knowledge of what goes on in the bedroom in order to fully satisfy on his wedding night. So it’s quite a shock when the Clementine he remembers is nothing like the woman who he spies smoking in her carriage and once she gets him alone quickly informs that they won’t suit and she has no intention of marrying anyone. In fact she plans to run away, with a friend, who just happens to be another man.
Before I even get to the main protagonists and their romance, I need to state how much I absolutely adored Derek’s brother Andrew. I want his book now. He is introduced in the prologue at the same time Derek and Clementine meet, but it’s not until the first chapter where conversations like this start to take place:
“You let her burn the word PENIS into your arm?”
Those eyes widened. “Penis? No, no. Mentula is an endearment. I asked.”
Derek snarled “It is not an endearment but an insult. Have you ever read the texts of Priapeia?”
Andrew glared. “So you’re better read than I am. What of it?”
“What of it? Jesus, I’m trying to– What rational woman burns a man’s arm with the word PENIS and claims it’s an endearment?”
Right then and there I fell a little bit in love with both Derek and Andrew. I’m not even sure why. Something about the relationship between the brothers grabbed me immediately. Derek has grown up in an incredibly loving family, protective of his brother and desperately looking forward to marrying the girl he’s been betrothed to for the last seven years. There is never a thought in his mind that the two of them aren’t meant for each other. His only moments of doubt are about what he can provide her that she doesn’t already have. Her unwillingness to settle down with him in matrimonial bliss completely confounds him. And he’s angry. He also wants a wedding night. The one he’s been looking forward to for years.
Clementine has her reasons for not trusting herself and what kind of marriage she would have with Derek. She has fallen in love with him over the years, but the relationship between her parents has taught her only that passions are ugly. She does agree to Derek’s one night in exchange that he let her go. All the misunderstandings and conflicts pretty much stem from her friendship with this other man. Derek jumps to conclusions, waivers back and forth between anger and sorrow. One minute you are thinking Clementine needs to slap him upside the head for his pig-headed ways and the next you want her to give a little and let him in. I liked the back and forth of their relationship. It took a lot of time for this couple to learn to compromise and give in, even going as far as Derek agreeing to attending the School of Gallantry (hence the name of the series) where he is taught by a renowned courtesan about how to pleasure and please his wife. The romance worked for me because even though these two did have love, it wasn’t until they understood and accepted each other that it all ended up working. Even sex didn’t become satisfying and fulfilling until the end when they finally are content with their relationship.
I liked the pacing, found this to be a fast read, there was humor, sexy times and just the right amount of conflict. The heroine is strong and capable, while the hero has no fear of letting his intended know how much he loves her. This historical romance hit all my buttons and I am looking forward to the next book in the series. Final Grade- B
Miss Maitenon swept toward the row of four women and gestured toward them. “These beautiful women will be demonstrating the dildo.”
Oh, now, shite. How was this educational? He highly doubted Clementine, who couldn’t even manage saying ‘I love you’ would be able to manage a dildo.