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Friday, May 25, 2012

The Wicked Games of a Gentleman by Jillian Hunter

The Wicked Games of a Gentleman by Jillian Hunter
Publisher: Ivy Books (Random House)
Genre: Historical
Length: Full Length (371 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

Lord Drake Boscastle has everything–smoldering good looks, extreme wealth, and devilish charms. Everything, that is, except true happiness. Hoping to satisfy his growing discontent, he is set to meet one of the most celebrated courtesans in England for a heated rendezvous. But on the scheduled night of pleasure, Lord Drake’s world is turned upside down by Eloise Goodwin, a wholesome, spirited governess with voluptuous curves and a beguiling wit. Even with an experienced seductress willing to satisfy his every need, Lord Drake cannot forget his encounter with Eloise.

Although swept off her feet by the mysteriously handsome rake, Eloise has more pressing matters to address. Her rebellious young client has escaped into the night with a local rogue and is nowhere to be found. Stepping in to assist, Lord Drake must try to resist his desire to indulge the longing passion he feels for Eloise. But once a scoundrel, always a scoundrel . . . or has the untamable Lord Drake at last been tamed?

The life of a companion isn’t usually this exciting or fraught with peril and intrigue but Ms. Hunter has written a heroine as fascinating and unusual as a woman can be. It was a great reading experience and I enjoyed every minute of it.

Eloise is all about duty, responsibility and plans. She's focused, dedicated and suffers the indignity of caring for a spoiled rotten young lady who causes more problems than one woman should. All the heroine has to do is keep an eye on her until the wedding and then she’s free to pursue her goal of joining a lady’s academy. It’s almost a done deal, except for two things -- a chance meeting that causes a sensual explosion of her well organized world, and her charge disappearing with the most unsavory character sets in motion a romance that shouldn’t have had a chance.

I liked Eloise because for all of her innocence, she’s no dummy. She observed the people that she came in contact with and learned the signals that told her to beware and avoid. However, nothing prepared her for Lord Drake Boscastle. I don’t think any woman could ever understand what it’s like to meet a man such as he. The hero is cynical, jaded, bored with life and too good looking for his own peace of mind. He’s at the point in his life where he knows he's missing something and tries to take on a challenge that would jump start his interest in life. Instead he accidentally dallies with an intriguing young miss and his world is never the same. Readers will get a kick out of how easily and completely he falls under the heroine’s spell.

Eloise has secrets that are pretty darned funny but the most amazing thing is what the author decided to do with that secret. The saying, “What goes around, comes around” has never been truer. As the story unfolded, a certain possibility reared its head and I couldn’t shake the feeling that I knew something about someone in the book. Imagine my delighted surprise to realize it was true and once again, Ms. Hunter used a unique development to good effect in furthering the plot. It was funny, bittersweet and for the hero, quite the shock.

The whole conversational scene between Drake and Devon, his brother, was fun and 100% entertaining. I liked Devon, he’s got style and I hope to see more of him. The best illustration of their relationship is this bit of repartee,

Drake shook his head in exasperation. “What do you think, Devon?”

“I think you’re a damn moody swine.”

“I never claimed to be a bloody ray of sunshine.”

I loved that! What came next gave me the giggles. And after that was excitement. Then after that was a most intriguing hook that kept me glued to the pages. This book had it all.

The conflict threads are basically: staying one step ahead of the gossipmongers, keep Thalia pure and present for the wedding, have Eloise keep her own reputation intact, solve the mystery as to how to get rid of a certain burr and nuisance and the big one, how to be the perfect mistress when the hero is too dense to realize he’s really looking for something else. The interesting thing about the above mentioned list is how it changed throughout the book. Much like real life, goals and wants change with the experiences of life and new possibilities open up and take people on new adventures. That certainly happens in this story.

Secondary characters make the book fascinating. They spice up the lives of the hero and heroine with humor, steadfast support when things get really dramatic, and they help showcase just how wonderful Eloise and Drake really are for each other. The dialogue was entertaining and peppered with quips and side comments that amuse and inform. The villain was a worm and deserved what he got. Oh, and Thalia’s brother is a moron.

The Wicked Games of a Gentleman is an entertaining and engaging tale that prompts a reader to grin, gasp and keep glued to its pages. The book is filled with excitement, has a spicy and delicious romance and a hero and heroine that I enjoyed getting to know. It was a lot of fun and the characters were written well enough that I am inspired to find more stories on the Boscastle brothers. Thank you, Ms. Hunter for introducing readers to such interesting and challenging men to redeem.