Ross takes the reader into the world of the Regency rake, specifically that of Alden Granville-Strachan, Viscount Gracechurch. A younger son who has inherited the bankrupt Gracechurch estate, he attempts to improve his cash flow by gambling–but his real success lies in seduction. When he loses the family estate at the card table, his opponents, Lord Edward Vane and Sir Reginald Denby, up the stakes with the wager that if Alden can seduce a widow, Juliet Seton, his property will be his again.
Juliet proves to be a piquant target, raising the question of who is doing the seducing as Alden finds himself more and more enthralled by her. Needless to say, she has a secret; Vane and Denby have an ulterior motive; and Alden makes some discoveries of his own before the inevitable happy ending. Ross provides lavish descriptions of both men’s and women’s clothing, powdered wigs, and decorative face patches, bringing the opulence of Regency England to life. Dialogue rings true to the period without being wearying, the lovers are tender without being cloying, and the love scenes are passionate without being pornographic. I picked up this book, expecting a fun, predictable read and found it less predictable and more fun.