Wickedly Ever After
St. Martin’s, Jul 2009, $6.99
Lady Athena McAlister caught her chosen fiancé Calvin Breatherton lip locked with very tall bony Lady Posonby. Not being a twit, the twenty-eight year old Athena concludes that men prefer their mistresses over their wives. She ponders how to make the spouse the first choice and concludes a wife must also be the mistress. She persuades her wealthy grandfather to open up a school for young women to teach them the typical agenda of being a lady, but also adds courses on seduction and being a mistress in the boudoir. Athena hires rakes and courtesans as instructors in the “Pleasure Emporium” in Scotland.
Marshall Hawkesworth arrives to learn what his sister is studying as she seems to hint of things she should not know about. Athena hires Marshall as an artist's nude model and as a teacher of sensual kissing. To prove his lips’ worth, he picks Athena as his first apprentice. Their kiss shocks both of them and each wants more. However, a tabloid wants to do an exposé of the school for scandal and its headmistress; Marshall plans to keep the woman he loves and her pupils safe from any scandal.
The third Pleasure Emporium Regency romance (see WHEN A LADY MISBEHAVES and GENTLEMEN BEHAVE BADLY) is a terrific tale that satirizes several standard historical themes. The brisk story line starts a bit slower than usual but once Athena realizes she lacks the seductive weapons to compete with a mistress even one in which she is much prettier and more charming than her towering skinny rival, the plot takes off and never slows down as the heroine never takes a breather. Fans will enjoy the latest use of the infamous brothel.