on September 1st 2017
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Pursuing a role in Parliament, Christopher Lattimar needs a virtuous marriage to make society overlook his roguish past. When beautiful and disarming Ellie Parmenter offers to reform and refine him, he's too tempted to say no.
Once a courtesan, Ellie knows a thing or two about polishing a diamond in the rough. She has no designs on Christopher—or any man in search of a wife—but their best-laid plans begin to tumble once lessons in respectability turn to seduction…
~~Reviewed by Monique~~
Christopher Lattimar, a Member of Parliament, is celebrating a political victory with his three friends from the Hellions. A few days later, Christopher goes see his mother, and tells her it’s time he should get married, she scoffs at the ridiculous notion. Lady Vraux has never been too keen on the institution of marriage, seeing how it went for her; Lady Vraux has had lovers for years. And the beautiful Ellie Parmenter is there, Ellie’s protector passed away recently, and if she told Christopher he could be her next, he would jump at the chance. He had not seen her in ten years or so, has always fancied her, but nothing ever happened, they’re just friends. Ellie would like nothing better than to be the wife Christopher will be seeking, but with her past as a kept woman, the most he would offer would be a liaison, he will want a respectable young lady, a Virtuous Virgin as he calls them. It would break Ellie’s heart to lose him permanently. Ellie also has a school for disadvantaged girls, which she holds very close to her heart.
Julia Justiss is a master at character studies, and once again she gives us ample proof of her extraordinary abilities. Christopher and Ellie are wonderfully well-rounded, very complex, and particularly Ellie, extremely engaging. Christopher’s mother is one of the most colourful characters I have ever encountered; I also loved little Artis, and I hope we get to know what happens to this wonderful character.
I was appalled and outraged at what had happened to Ellie, and I have seldom wished for a character that so deserved a happy-ever-after. Ellie lives with a deeply-ingrained sadness, and I commiserated with her, I lived the injustice to which she was subjected. On the other hand, it was quite entertaining – and a delightful history lesson in manners as well – to watch Christopher endeavour to navigate proper society, as he had no idea how to behave in the company of proper young ladies, so used is he to courtesans and willing widows.
Ms. Justiss writes so splendidly, every idiom, every expression, every little detail is so faithful to the era, that the writing is worthy of the classics. Those colourless days where reality reigns, grey and dull, are illuminated by scintillating fleeting moments of the boundless joy of being in the loved one’s presence, merely seeing that dear face. And the best of all, the story unfolded as I wished, not as I thought it would, and it was fabulous. And the glorious, wonderful, magical dénouement and epilogue that made me want to cheer and applaud! Sublime!
I voluntarily reviewed an advanced reader copy of this book.