I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
historical romance that was published by Mira on June 21, 2011 and has 411 pages.
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Fourth in the House of Rohan’s historical romance series set in the London of 1842. The couple focus is on Lord Benedick Rohan and Lady Melisande “Charity” Carstairs.
Too funny! It’s like a sex manual for the innocent with Charity taking in soiled doves and finding them new careers. Naturally, these ladies of the evening repay her with lots of useful advice that Benedick just doesn’t see coming. Too bad she didn’t follow their advice about the nightgown…!
It’s all rather slapstick comedy beginning with the scene where Violet runs off to service Lord Rohan with Charity running right behind her to “rescue” her. Or is it Keystone Kops? Lord knows there are all sorts of people running in and out of Benedick’s house. Then there’s the nasty self-righteousness of Miss Pennington. Wait, just wait until you read her proposal to Benedick! Stuart is a wicked, wicked woman with a sense of humor.
Stuart skims through the society of 1842 with occasional dips into its reality. Although, Benedick is a delight with his come-ons and innuendos carefully designed to ruffle Lady Carstairs’ feathers. If only Benedick didn’t so enjoy how well they ruffled.
Richmond makes a funny: “I assure you, my lord, I have absolutely no sense of humor whatsoever.” He’s a good guy. Then there’s the Pennington at the opposite end of the spectrum. Listening to her brag about how independent she is: “I have often been bold enough to walk on my own […with only her maid and footman with her]”.
I like that Stuart’s heroines are all “flawed” per society’s [and our own] expectations. Charity is old and not all that eligible for someone of Benedick’s status. Her daily activities are far beyond the pale for what is expected of society ladies. And Stuart describes her as frumpy.
At last! The wallflowers are getting the attention they deserve.
On the whole, it was fun to read. More comedic as opposed to the eroticism of the earlier installments.
Benedick is back in London after undergoing his year of mourning for Barbara. He’s determined to tup his way throughout all of London and marry the Honorable Miss Dorothea Pennington. But first, he is very much looking forward to a visit with Violet Highstreet, a prostitute with a very talented mouth.
He just doesn’t expect the “procuress” who comes running in right behind Violet. Too many of London’s highflyers have retired, and Lady Carstairs is cutting cut a swath through the gentlemen’s enjoyments. And she seems quite determined to make his lordship’s life a misery what with wanting to penetrate the Heavenly Host and prevent their nefarious goings-on.
It’s the last thing Benedick wants to do…spend any more time with Charity. She is simply getting more and more delicious to his eye, and it’s all he can do to not drag her off.
Lady Melisande “Charity” Carstairs is the 30-year-old widow of Sir Thomas Carstairs. He cut up rich, and it’s enabled Charity to fund her charity project: rescuing prostitutes and retraining them to work in more respectable jobs. Mrs. Emma Cadbury was once a very respected madame; now, at 32, she’s Charity’s second-in-command with most of her stable living in Charity’s home and learning trades. The ladies currently in training include Violet Highstreet of the talented mouth, Mollie Biscuits who has turned cook, the gimpy Raffaela, the too-young Betsey and her missing sister Aileen, and the bruised and battered Maudie. Miss Mackenzie is Charity’s old governess and now her society chaperon.
Lord Benedick Francis Alistair Rohan, 6th Viscount Rohan, has buried two wives who died in childbirth. He’s determined that he will marry a third time, but without any love for the woman, for he can’t bear having to go through this again. His brother Charles is happily married as is his sister, Miranda Rohan de Malheur, Countess of Rochdale…even though he hates her husband, the Scorpion, a.k.a., Lucien de Malheur (see Breathless). Brandon is the youngest brother. He suffered a terrible wound that left him limping and half his face destroyed in the war in Afghanistan. Now he’s working his way through the alcohol and opium hoping for an early release. His parents are Adrian and Charlotte, the Marquess and Marchiness of Haverstoke (see Reckless).
Richmond is Benedick’s extremely competent butler; he’s been around since Benedick was a wee boy. With all the familiarity that engenders!
The Honorable Miss Dorothea Pennington is the nastiest, most intolerant piece of work…! Harry Merton is an old friend of Benedick’s, although Stuart drops some hints that he’s not all that he seems. Wilfred Hunnicut was a fortune hunter who didn’t rise to Charity’s expectations. Not that those were very high. Lord and Lady Elesmere are members of the Heavenly Host along with Miss Pennington’s brother, Arthur. The Grand Master of the Heavenly Host has his nefarious plans well in hand, and it all involves drugs and blackmail.
The Cover and Title
The cover has a nightly, dreamy quality with its shades of purple and a firm-jawed woman swathed in yet more purple, her black hair falling down her back, and a profile of her naked breast.
The title refers to Lady Carstairs’ shameless adoption and housing of…oh, my dear, can you believe it?…soiled doves. Yes, right here in our very own neighborhood. It’s positively Shameless!