The first in a new trilogy from Ashlyn Macnamara, What a Lady Craves manages to hit all of my current obsessions in one quick reading, highly enjoyable historic romance. In addition, Macnamara manages to incorporate humor and some tried and true tropes into the story: a mystery, lovers reunited, a bad boy reformed and the ever-present interfering dowager. It’s the second of her titles that I have read, and I am finding that I enjoyed this as much as the first.
We start with Henrietta, sister of George from A Most Devilish Rogue, and she is the jilted fiancé of Alex, who left for India oh so many years ago. Henrietta starts out being singularly noticeable for her common sense and good breeding, but there is so much more to her than just those qualities. She has a foul mouth, well, for the time, a refreshing change from the other ladies of the Regency era, and she is not above passion. Yes, she is easily flustered when she is out of her element, and I do think that even though she truly did love Alexander, she could have kept him waiting and suffering a bit longer.
In contrast, Alexander is part victim of circumstance (the shipwreck) part bad-boy, and just a tiny bit of little boy lost doing what he can to make amends. He wasn’t always behaving as his own ingrained sense of honor would have it, but I do think that he grew and developed in the course of the story, aided by his wicked sense of humor and ability to find ‘funny’ in situations.
Macnamara’s characters are deceptively simplistic: they grow and change as the story progresses and their behaviors are not only explained by their backstories but feel entirely in keeping with the personalities that we are coming to know. Then there are the secondary characters who present needed contrasts to the romance: Lady Epperley is a meddlesome, nosey staid matron who always seems to have several balls in the air but has time to manipulate and guilt others to her side. Her coddled cat Albermarle is a bit of a unique creature – used as her ‘plain speaking’ puppet when she won’t be bold enough to speak for herself. Funny and familiar all at once, she is a treat to behold.
The mystery is a nice tease scattered throughout the story not unlike little crumbs that readers need to pick up along the way, as you guess at the solution. And then, add in several steamy scenes that while they involve the virginal Henrietta and the ‘bad boy’ Alexander, neither was particularly true to form. Henrietta was curious and advanced for her situation, and Alexander’s reputation was far more debauched than he ever was. Their moments were hot, steamy and heartfelt, giving a sense of the connection between them as a solid and long lasting one.
Title: What a Lady Craves
Author: Ashlyn Macnamara
Genre: Historical Romance
Published by: Loveswept
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Heat: Get Your Copy: Amazon ♦ iTunes ♦ Kobo ♦ Downpour ♦ IndieBound ♦Audible
Ashlyn Macnamara weaves a delicious tale of two souls torn apart by circumstance and reunited by fate—perfect for fans of Julia Quinn, Eloisa James, and Sabrina Jeffries.
Henrietta Upperton is about to marry Alexander Sanford, when he rushes off to India to salvage his family’s fortune. Then comes the devastating news that he has wed another. Eight agonizing years later, a storm washes Alexander ashore—injured, widowed, and hunted—and one glimpse of his ruggedly handsome face reawakens the desire Henrietta thought she had buried deep inside. Her body still yearns for his touch, but she’s determined not let him wound her again . . . not this time.
For Alexander, honor always comes first. But only now does he realize that when given the choice between two virtuous deeds, he picked the wrong one. On the run with his life in tatters and a pair of daughters in tow, Alexander burns for Henrietta. He knows he does not deserve forgiveness. And yet he longs to wrap his arms around her warm body once again. What’s more, he is sure the lady craves the same.
Releasing August 12th, 2014
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.