by Emma Locke
Series: The Naughty Girls #1
Published on December 9, 2012 by Intrepid Reads
Genres: Adult, Historical Romance, Romance
HE PUT HER ON A PEDESTAL
When Celeste Gray arrives in the sleepy village of Brixcombe-on-the-Bay, she thinks she’s one step closer to leaving her notorious past behind. She even suspects the deliciously handsome—if somewhat stuffy—viscount next door is developing a tendre for her. That is, until the day Ashlin Lancester learns she’s not the unassuming spinster she’s pretending to be.
NOW SHE HAS FARTHER TO FALL
After a decade of proving he is nothing like his profligate father, Ash is horrified to have given his heart to a Cyprian. He launches a campaign to prove his attraction is nothing more than a sordid reaction he can’t control. But he soon learns that unlike his father, he can’t find comfort in the arms of just any woman. He needs Celeste. When he takes her as his mistress, he’s still not satisfied, and the many late nights in her arms only make him want more…
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For a romance, this wasn’t a memorable one. Celeste is a courtesan who runs away to the country with her quite-pregnant friend. And our leading man is a local lord with daddy issues and two rambunctious sisters to care for. They have their ups and downs before leading to the expected happy ending. Great for the characters, not so great for the reading experience.
Celeste had a lot going for her as a character. Unlike most historical romances, this leading lady wasn’t in her early twenties on a husband search, or caught in a compromising position with a rake and forced into marriage. She had enough money to be one of the noblemen and a reputation as one of the best courtesans. I thought that last bit would bother me but instead it gave Celeste more independence than most woman which made me like her that much more. So a thumbs up for Celeste. Her love interest, on the other hand…
On his own, Ash wasn’t bad. My issues with him are his past. He has a lot of hang-ups with his parents and their cheating habits, so much so that he was too proper and too uptight. It makes him turn into a complete asshat when it comes to Celeste and her friend, the charming Mrs. Inglewood. Not to mention his need for control when it comes to his younger sisters, telling them to not even talk to the two new women in town. He’s a jerk to Celeste before knowing about her background and when he finds out, he goes off the rails until he makes a deal with her to be his mistress. He couldn’t be without her but he couldn’t stand making it more than an affair. Everything about him pissed me off.
The story itself was all over the place. Locke has a great writing style which helped compensate for Ash’s character. When he and Celeste had their “thing,” the plot moved quickly but as soon as they were apart it slowed down to a near standstill. During these times, the only saving grace was Celeste’s point-of-view (the only one of the two I tolerated). But once Ash made a reappearance in London, all of that amazing independence went straight out the window and she let him walk all over her.
Overall, this book was a disappointment. So much potential and a great writing style but neither saved the plot from self destruction. It’s unlikely I’ll be reading another book in this series but I may try some of the author’s other works as her writing is enjoyable to read.