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Monday, February 9, 2009

Masked Seduction by Donna McAteer

Masked Seduction by Donna McAteer
Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press
Genre: Historical
Length: Full (220 pages)
Heat: Hot
Rating: 4.5 books
Reviewed by Orchid

Lady Christina Stratford never planned on being seduced by a darkly mysterious, masked highwayman on her way to London. Nor did she plan to have her late husband’s entire estate challenged by the sudden appearance of a long-lost son. Salvation comes in the form of the Third Earl of Mansfield, who uses his power to aid the beautiful widow in her cause. But she soon becomes torn between the handsome good looks of the lord and the carnal pleasures awakened by the masked man. It is not until the plot that killed her husband is uncovered that she discovers that her two lovers are the same man and the race to save her own life begins.

Widowed on her wedding night, Christina, Lady Stratford, is now out of mourning and searching for a new husband. Waylaid by a charismatic highwayman on her way to town, she cannot forget the masked man. In society she is attracted to Booth Davenport, the Earl of Mansfield, but nightime visits from the masked stranger awaken her body’s physical longings. She is torn between the illicit lovemaking with a man who seems to be nothing more than a thief, and the very correct Earl who can offer her security and comfort for the rest of her days.

Booth Davenport, Earl of Mansfield, has one main purpose in life. He and a group of friends have taken to highway robbery to relieve the lot of the poor. Taking only cash, the group donate their spoils to the friars who take care of the unfortunate inhabitants of the East End of London. On an unforgettable night he holds up Christina’s coach and his life changes forever.

Christina and Booth both have a secret. No one knows Christina’s elderly husband died before he could consummate the marriage. She is determined to dispose of her maidenhead to the highwayman who turns her insides into a quivering mess. Booth’s highwayman activities place him at risk, but he also plays a dangerous double game when he starts a seduction of Christina in his highwayman personna, but then finds he is smitten by her and must also woo her as his true self.

What at first seems to be a straightforward love story is clouded by the appearance of a long lost son of Christina’s husband. If his claim is upheld Christina stands to lose everything. Her one ray of hope is that it would clear the way for marriage to the highwayman.

Booth is unable to free himself from a persistent previous mistress who refuses to accept the affair is over. This woman tries to stir up trouble between Christina and Booth.

This book is a true Regency but with added spice. The love scenes grab the attention, but at the same time form an integral part of the novel. At first I was irritated by the repeated reference to Christina’s magnificent breasts, but soon realised this was necessary as they were what formed Booth’s original attraction to her. The book became fun to read the deeper I went, until I was eager to reach the end and find out how the author resolved the many obstructions holding apart a couple who were obviously made for one another.

The only reason this book did not get a higher rating was because I felt some loose ends were left hanging, in particular the determined mistress. Where did she disappear to? This was just a little niggle and I’d be delighted to read more of Ms. McAteer’s novels.