Pleasures of a Notorious Gentleman
In the first book of Lorraine Heath’s latest trilogy, Stephen was portrayed as a frivolous rake who shamelessly flitted from bed to bed without conscience or indignity. He lacked ambition, seriousness and according to his brothers, character. So the brothers bought Stephen a military commission, hoping it would allow him to find that character. In Pleasures of a Notorious Gentleman the middle of the brothers dubbed the “greatest lovers in England” proves his mettle—in more ways than one. Ironically, the commission purchased by his brothers—which sent Stephen to war in the Crimea—accomplished what they had hoped. Stephen became a war hero, who saved men and fought gallantly and fiercely. But he couldn’t remember any of it. An injury afflicted Stephen with a severe case of amnesia. He remembered his past, just not his time at war. While at home convalescing, he’s shocked when a woman appears with a child she claims is his. He doesn’t remember Mercy. Mercy is glad. Because the former nurse has a secret that she desperately hopes Stephen never finds out. Of course he does. Of course it causes dissension between the hero and heroine, and a scene that will have readers plucking tissues in rapid succession. And of course that tear-inducing scene beautifully sets up a fabulous groveling scene a bit later in the book. Which, of course, makes it all worth it. Stephen makes up for his rather amoral (in terms of seduction) past with some nice romantic lines to Mercy. And Mercy adequately explains why she kept a rather huge secret from Stephen. It makes past transgressions forgivable for and by each involved. It takes a bit long for Stephen and Mercy to act on their attraction to each other, but it proves Stephen’s reformation. Perhaps some of the best moments are Mercy’s memories of their platonic time together in the Crimea, where Mercy served as a nurse with Florence Nightingale. An injury brought Stephen to the hospital where Mercy worked, and they developed a friendship. When another nurse had Stephen’s baby and deserted it after hearing Stephen had died in battle, Mercy thought to bring the child to Stephen’s family. But by the time she returned to England, she loved the baby so much she couldn’t leave him. So she concocted her story. As with the first book in this trilogy, Heath creates charismatic characters that capture interest. Secrets and a villainess add intrigue and will keep the pages turning. The book is well-written and fast-paced. The final five chapters are all that a romance fan could hope for. The series concludes in July, when the Duke of Ainsley succumbs to love in Waking Up With a Duke.