Plot (from avonromance.com)
The Marquis of Chase is not a reputable man.
He is notorious for his wretched morals and is never received in respectable houses. The ladies of the ton would never allow him in their drawing rooms . . . though they were more than willing to welcome him into their bedchambers. Ejected from his father’s house at the age of sixteen, he now lives a life of wanton pleasure. So what could the Marquis of Chase possibly want with Juliana Merton, a lovely, perfectly upstanding shopkeeper with a mysterious past?
A moment’s indiscretion?
A night’s passion?
Or a lifetime of love?
Even the wildest rakes have their weaknesses . . .
Things I Loved
I’m not a fan of the Alpha Male Romance hero, especially in historical romance. While I understand intellectually that there are lots of happy, healthy submissive ladies out there, I don’t find this trope at all appealing. In most cases, male dominance reads as a failure to procure consent.
So I adore that Juliana gets to be dominant in several of their encounters. Even better, it’s not seen as an inversion of the power dynamic (in that she is going to render him powerless) but as an act of sharing power. Cain enthusiastically consents to letting Juliana take the lead for a variety of reasons; one of the most prominent is that he respects and acknowledges her as an equal, in the bedroom (or, in this instance, a carriage) and out.
Of course, this works because Cain was basically raised by prostitutes after his father disowned him and cast him out of polite society. Cain has spent years socializing almost exclusively with women of slightly compromised reputations. Not only does he regard women’s intelligence more highly than the average nobleman might, he understands how the rules of his society enable men to strip women of their power. Which, of course, makes him shockingly progressive and incredibly attractive.
Also: rare book auctions and a guard dog named Quarto.
2 out of 4 chili peppers (1 being a step above a sex-free gentle romance, 4 being an all-sex-and-no-plot romance). Proceed with caution if you’re more Georgette Heyer than Ellora’s Cave.