I’m still sick. I’m just throwing that out there because (1) I’m certain that everyone on the Internet totally cares how I’m doing, and (2) when sick, I turn into the most whiny monster of complainy complainingness that the world has ever seen. So I can’t help mentioning (read: complaining about) being sick because I had a fever AGAIN today and because I used a sinus rinse for the first time this afternoon and it was soooooo, sooo gross and because I’ve taken more sick time in the last two weeks than I have in the past four years (not counting maternity leave). So the gigantic to-do list that will await me when I go back on Wednesday? Yeah, that won’t be fun either. Anyway… enough about me (go ahead and say it, “Quit yer bitchin’, Kelly!”). Today I’m happy to feature a novella by Anne Barton, whose debut I discussed not too long ago.
The publisher’s blurb, courtesy of Goodreads:
After being jilted by her former beau, Miss Amelia Wimple retreated to her Mayfair town house and her ever-growing collection of gossips rags. Now, almost two years later, not even her beloved cousins, Rose and Olivia Sherbourne, can persuade her to give love another chance. But an unexpected midnight caller may open her heart once more.
Lord Stephen Brookes is the prince of pleasure, the duke of decadence — and it seems his exploits have finally caught up with him. When Stephen comes to Amelia seeking refuge, she can’t deny him . . . or the intense desire he sparks. As he attempts to heal her broken heart, they indulge in a private passion unlike anything either has experienced. Stephen knows sweet, sensual Amelia is meant to be his one and only. Now, he will do whatever it takes to convince her that a rake really can change his ways.
While the premise is ever so slightly implausible (a rake, gambler and world-famous libertine is badly beaten by thugs, and there is simply nowhere else for him to convalesce than at the unchaperoned home of an unmarried miss. Right…), I enjoyed this quick little romance that offered redemption to two people whose unfortunate choices (or unfortunate fate) left them a bit broken, a bit adrift. I absolutely loved Stephen’s journey from wastrel to responsible citizen — and I loved that he recognized that he needed to change his ways to be worthy of Amelia’s love — and Amelia’s development from a self-made social recluse to a woman to begins to appreciate her intrinsic value. I could have wished that the conflict had been stronger to ratchet up the drama a little bit, but maybe that’s just me. On the whole, I’d say this book is a heart-warming, happy, and positive read with a very sweet ending. (And I loved all the quotes from Amelia’s diary. Adorable.)
The publisher was kind enough to share an excerpt of To All the Rakes I’ve Loved Before, which I now share with you.
Boldly, she placed her hands on either side of his face. She was careful to avoid the worst of the cuts as she held his head still. “Shhh,” she said softly. “You’re going to be all right.”
Gently, she smoothed her thumbs over the sides of his jaw, marveling at the warm, abrading feel of his skin. He quieted a little, and as some of the tension left his body, his lips parted. Even though the lower one was split and swollen, she found herself staring at those lips, wondering what they might feel like if she touched them with her own, and what it might feel like to be properly kissed—or rather, wickedly kissed—by a man like him.
These were purely hypothetical questions of course, as she had no intention of kissing anyone, but even the thought stirred something warm and lovely in her belly.
And then, because her amateur attempts at nursing seemed to have the desired effect on Lord Brookes, she continued lightly stroking his face…and the smooth skin below his ears…and the brown curls at his nape. Though unaware of his surroundings, he sighed contentedly.
Well. Apparently, she was quite good at this…this comforting thing. The knowledge not only pleased her, but emboldened her further. She’d noticed the skin exposed by his loosened shirt, of course—any warm-blooded girl would have. Her gaze took in the small hollow above his collarbone, the breadth of his shoulders, and the light sprinkling of hair across the smooth planes of his chest. Never one to waste an opportunity, Amelia let her hand glide down his sinewy neck and over the taut muscles of his shoulder, barely breathing as she did so.
Stay tuned in late October for a review of Barton’s next release, the full-length novel Once She Was Tempted that I’ve been anticipating ever since I read the teaser excerpt in the back of Barton’s first novel. Once She Was Tempted will be released on October 29, 2013.
To All the Rakes I’ve Loved Before was released on September 3, 2013 as an e-book by Forever Yours. For more information about the book, click on the cover image above to visit its page on Goodreads. For more information about Anne Barton, please visit her website.
*FTC disclosure – I received an e-galley from Forever Yours via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*