Thursday, August 4, 2022

BOOK REVIEW: The Devil and the Viscount by Mary Lancaster

I’m a huge fan of Mary Lancaster’s Regency Romances. Nevertheless, I approached her new series, Gentlemen of Pleasure, with some trepidation. The new novels are in Dragonblade Publishing’s Flame line of steamy romances and come with a warning (or advertisement) of a scorching-hot read with multiple sex scenes.

Steamier romances are not my favorite reads. Still, book one, The Devil and the Viscount, continues to revolve around the Maida Pleasure Gardens and includes many of the characters introduced in that series, so I decided to give it a try. This is a short and rather sweet romance focusing on Rollo Darblay, a viscount and a well-known rake, who has shown his face in previous books. Rollo has recently inherited his title and a mountain of debt. He needs to marry an heiress and is dreading it. The female protagonist is Miss Gina Wallace, an heiress, who is betrothed to another fortune-hunting gent–an earl who is significantly older.

Gina has always been an obedient daughter and she is ready to marry the stuffy old Lord Longton because her father arranged it and has given his word. But it’s the last thing in the world that she wants.

Gina and Rollo meet in the sitting room of the hotel alongside the Maida Gardens. Gina is on her way to London with a respectable chaperone to be introduced to society (and to be evaluated more closely by Lord Longton.) Rollo is at the hotel with a group of friends who are drinking and gambling. He wanders into the sitting room for a respite. They strike up a conversation then sneak out to the gardens for a dance. (The chaperone is in her room with a headache.) They spend the next day together as well and grow enamored of each other. They spend one passionate night together. Then, they must part.

Although they fulfill the requirements of what each other needs in a marriage partner (Rollo has a title and Gina has money), Gina can’t back out of her betrothal to Lord Longton without betraying her father. So when their paths cross again and again at society functions, they have to behave themselves. Until they can’t.

The characters are charming, sympathetic, and respectful of one another. The sex scenes (actually very few) do not overwhelm the story. This looks like it will be a fun series to follow!

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