At St. George’s Club, guardians conspire to keep their unattached sisters and wards out of the clutches of sinful suitors. Which works fine…except when the sinful suitors are members!
American artist Jeremy Keane refuses to return home and take over his father’s business. He’d much rather sample bevvies of beauties abroad, in search of a model for the provocative masterpiece he’s driven to paint. When he meets Lady Yvette Barlow at a London wedding, he realizes she’s perfect for his work -- and determines to capture the young heiress’s defiant spirit and breathtaking sensuality on canvas.
No stranger to scandal, Yvette agrees to be Keane’s subject -- in exchange for his help gaining entry to the city’s brothels he knows intimately, so she can track a missing woman and solve a family mystery. But when their practical partnership leads to lessons in the art of sinning, can they find a bold and lasting love?
Good start to the new series, with characters from the previous series, The Duke's Men. We met Jeremy Keane, American artist, in How the Scoundrel Seduces, as he helped out with his cousin Zoe's problem. Now he is pursuing his art, searching for just the right model for the painting he has in mind. Nobody is right until he meets Lady Yvette, but getting a lady to pose for this particular painting isn't going to be easy, especially with her very protective older brother hovering.
Yvette is a young woman with a mind of her own. She isn't a typical English miss, having survived the scandalous behavior of her younger brother, and having a most unusual hobby of collecting slang for an unorthodox dictionary. She's intrigued by Jeremy's offer to paint her, and counters his offer with one of her own. She'll sit for him if he'll help her find her younger brother's mistress and her son.
There is a strong attraction between Yvette and Jeremy from the very beginning, but both are determined to resist it. Yvette has been burned once before by falling for a scoundrel, and barely escaped with her reputation. She no longer trusts her own judgment when it comes to men, but she's sure that Jeremy isn't a man to pin her hopes on. Jeremy knows better than to get involved with a respectable woman. Doing so could get him married to her, and he's been married once before with tragic results. He avoids any kind of romantic entanglements, usually packing up and leaving before things get serious.
I liked Jeremy a lot. He portrays himself as quite the rake, but when you look past the surface, he really isn't. He uses his reputation to keep people from getting too close to him, but working closely with Yvette makes keeping his secrets much harder. Not only is he attracted to her, he actually likes her. Trying to behave like a gentleman around her gets more difficult the more time they spend together.
Yvette is a very determined young woman. She has her mission and she isn't going to let anything stop her. I loved seeing her negotiate her requirements with Jeremy, and make sure that he doesn't try to renege. I loved her hobby of searching out street cant, and the conversations they had because of it. She also has a very curious mind and no trouble asking questions, even if they are inappropriate.
I enjoyed seeing their relationship develop, even as both tried to deny what was growing between them. Their conversations were fun, as both are quick witted and have pretty wicked senses of humor. Jeremy quickly came to look at Yvette as more than just a model. Even though he resisted telling her about his past, just her presence in his life started to change the way he looked at his future. I also loved seeing how he tried to change the way she saw herself by showing her how she affected him. I liked how Yvette didn't take long to see that Jeremy was not the scoundrel that everyone says he is. She is determined to find out why he pretends to be, and it was fun to see the way she chips away at his protective walls. When his past becomes fully known to her, she sees that until he deals with it completely they can't have the future they deserve. I loved how she saw him so clearly and called him on his actions. Facing that past and learning things he hadn't known before was very emotional, and I loved seeing that emotion expressed rather than buried. The changes in both of them by the end were significant.
As the first in the series, some time is spent introducing characters that will play parts in later books. It is in this one that the idea for a gentleman's club, devoted to the idea of protecting their sisters and female relations from scoundrels like themselves is introduced. Yvette's brother Edwin is one of those men. He seems to be quite a stick-in-the-mud at the beginning, but I warmed up to him as his love for his sister became more obvious. He also comes through quite nicely when Yvette finds the woman and child she had been looking for. Another one of the members is Warren, cousin and guardian to Yvette's friend Clarissa. Clarissa is another young woman like Yvette, with a mind of her own and no desire to forced into a mold that doesn't fit her. Other secondary characters were Jeremy's apprentice, who keeps Jeremy on his toes, and Jeremy's sister Amanda, who has been running the family business back in America.