Bantam, Jun 22 2010, $7.99
In 1819, the fickle Ton blames Mia Castellano for her broken engagement although her fiancé is totally at fault; logic never intrudes on the gossip. Surprisingly, she finds being ostracized as liberating as being able to say no. Mia wants the freedom to choose her lovers and declaring no to those she does not desire. Her only way to achieve total freedom is as a courtesan.
His brother the Duke of Meryon (see Stranger’s Kiss) has asked Lord David Pennistan to escort Mia to see his wife, her guardian, in Derbyshire. Along the journey, trouble is the norm for the pair, but the most troublesome is their growing attraction that neither wants. When they end up compromised he offers marriage, she rejects him. David must persuade Mia he loves her and marriage will free her even more than being a fallen woman.
The forth “Kiss” Pennistan Regency romance (see Traitor's Kiss and Lover's Kiss) is a terrific entry. The table is set early as Mia makes it clear to her escort what her future is. Although the theme of a woman struggling between love and independence is not new, Mary Blayney uses the courtesan role as a fresh liberator that focuses on how limited female choices were amidst the aristocracy.