Published by Samhain Publishing on January 26th 2016
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo
Love soothes the deepest of scars.
Minerva Bellingham is at her wits' end. Her younger brother, Simon, will have them penniless and on the streets if his extravagant gambling habit isn't curtailed. An enormous debt to Lord Rafe Drummond is the final indignity.
Signing over her dowry is their only choice. Until Lord Drummond suggests something much more scandalous. She can keep her dowry-in exchange for the Bellinghams working three months as a housemaid and stable boy.
Scarred from his service to the Crown, Rafe recognizes the young Simon Bellingham has the makings of a good duke. Minerva is a different story. Her pure, delicate beauty only underscores Rafe's tarnished, bleak soul.
Yet he delights in cracking Minerva's icy reserve to reveal a fiery, stubborn woman. And Minerva discovers the gruff master of Wintermarsh has the heart of a poet. But before they can find a future safe in each other's arms, a menace from Simon's licentious past slithers back into their lives, forcing Rafe to plan the most important rescue mission of his life.
Warning: Contains a paragon of the beau monde who gets the hang of polishing silver, and a master of the house who'd like her to make his bed-preferably with him in it. Also passion unleashed with the mere touch of a finger. Readers are encouraged to swoon.
~~Reviewed by Evelyn~~
A BRAZEN BARGAIN by Laura Trentham is the second novel in the Spies and Lovers series. It is a nice follow-up to the first novel, AN INDECENT PROPOSAL, but it has to do more with lovers than spies. It is also not necessary to have read the first book because it works well by itself.
A BRAZEN BARGAIN comes to be when Simon, the Duke of Bellingham, incurs gambling debts that he cannot pay. He is young and irresponsible, possibly due to the fact that he was raised by his older sister, Minerva, who also managed his estate. In order to pay back Lord Rafe Drummond without using her dowry, the only funds they have left, Minerva strikes a bargain that will have her and Simon working for Lord Drummond on his estate for three months. While Simon is very unhappy living and working in the stables, Minerva seems to almost enjoy her position as a maid.
At first, Rafe and Minerva have a very adversarial relationship. To Rafe, Minerva is just the annoying best friend of his younger sister. Minerva sees Rafe as grumpy and rude, but as they get to know each other, a strong mutual attraction develops.
I loved Rafe and Minerva, the hero and heroine. Both are strong, complicated characters that have had to deal with unusual challenges in their lives. Rafe is badly scarred, both physically and emotionally, and he feels that it makes him unlovable. Minerva had to become an adult very young, and she had to take care of family business and raise her brother. It made her very serious and reserved. Their flaws were due to circumstance, and I found myself drawn to both of them. I liked that their romance started out slowly as they both discovered their attraction for one another.
There are few important secondary characters, and the ones we do have, are not very well developed. I wanted to see more of Simon as he goes through a transformation working in the stables. I wanted more about Rafe’s sister Lily Drummond, who was also Minerva’s best friend. I wanted more about Jenny, the housemaid that befriended Minerva while she was working in Rafe’s estate. I’m hoping that these characters will be the subjects of future novels in the series.
The plot was interesting and held my interest throughout, although it was a bit thin in the middle when Rafe and Minerva are exploring their new sexual relationship. For me, the story got bogged down with the lovemaking scenes, but I’m sure other readers will love it.
All in all, I enjoyed A BRAZEN BARGAIN, in spite of the few small problems. I’m looking forward to the future books in this series.
I voluntarily reviewed an Advanced Readers Copy of this book.