Let me start out by saying what a treat it was to read a historical romance where the heroine is not a young virgin. In fact, Viola is anything-but. She is a beautiful and successful courtesan who is about to publish her second memoir, when thugs invade her home. She assumes they were sent at the behest of her former lover. But they’re really men hired to find an old treasure believed to be hidden in her home. Only two people know about the treasure: Charles (who sent the brutes) and his cousin Leo, a second-son of the ton. Leo doesn’t approve of Charles’ violent methods and sets out to seduce his way into Viola’s life to give him access to her home.
Of course, Leo ends up just as smitten as Viola. He takes her on as his mistress, with the promise to protect her from danger. Their sex scenes are phenomenal! (Though I have to admit, I was disappointed that we didn’t see their first time together on-page. I thought that was a bit odd, but their subsequent encounters were so hot, I stopped caring.) Feelings slowly start to make their way into the relationship, but things are very complicated. From the secret of why Leo approached her; to the danger Charles continues to pose; to the disparity in their class… the odds are stacked against them. But our couple is extremely rootable –and despite Leo’s less than noble beginnings, both leads are very likeable.
I really enjoyed this story. It got better with every page. And I am really looking forward to Ripe for Scandal, featuring Leo’s sister Beau. 4 stars.