This time, I have the last of the December romances, Lords of Passion (Brava, purchased and received another copy from publisher), with stories from Virginia Henley, Kate Pearce, and Maggie Robinson. Henley kicks things off with 'Beauty and the Brute', with Lady Sarah Caversham meeting up with her absentee husband, Charles Lennox, the man she was forced to marry at age thirteen. It's been three years since she's seen him and she'd be perfectly happy if it were another three years. But Charles is rather insistent that their marriage will move from just-on-paper to consummated and steamy. Sarah instead takes the opportunity to take revenge on the man he was three years ago, young, thoughtless and rude. She fails to take into consideration the changes several years can cause in a person, and she also fails to take into consideration the way her own emotions will be tangled up over her husband. 'How to Seduce a Wife' from Pearce has Nicholas March, Earl of Stortford, taking up his wife Louisa's challenge to seduce her instead of merely bedding her out of duty. She longs for passion, and so far, her husband has been nothing but polite and dutiful. But he'll do his best to waken her sleeping desire and show her that the novels she loves to read have nothing on what they can share together. Robinson's 'Not Quite a Courtesan' features the widowed Prudence Thorn assisting her wayward cousin Sophy by learning more than she ever expected in the arms of the roguish Darius Shaw when she wants to learn more about the intimacies between men and women. The best of the trio, of course, is Ms. Henley's story, though I really wished it were longer. I didn't enjoy Ms. Pearce's tale much, not finding much to like about either Nicholas or Louisa at the beginning of their story. I liked Ms. Robinson's slightly better, but still didn't fall in love. For the Henley, I'm borrowing four of Cupid's five arrows. For the anthology overall, just three.
Until next time, happy reading!