When Lady Esme Byron happens upon a gorgeous naked man sleeping beside a secluded country lake, she can’t resist the impulse to sketch him. But when her highly improper drawing is mistakenly revealed at a party, she finds her once-pristine reputation in tatters.
Gabriel, Lord Northcote, may be a notorious rakehell, but he is still stunned to find himself accused of despoiling a duke’s sister—especially since he’s never set eyes on her. When Esme’s six irate brothers demand a hurried trip down the aisle, he has no choice but to comply. He thinks he can forget about his inconvenient bride but Esme Byron is no ordinary woman and Gabriel is about to learn just how unforgettable she can be.
Place and time: England 1818
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 4 stars
Review by Wendy
I adored Happily Bedded Bliss the second in Tracy Anne Warren’s, The Rakes of Cavendish Square series, so much so that I read it in a few sittings and then read the first book, The Bedding Proposal immediately afterwards and enjoyed it even more. Although both books can be read as standalones, I highly recommend reading the series – just because!
When the youngest of the powerful Byron family, Lady Esme, takes a walk one fine day and stumbles across a beautiful, sleeping, VERY naked Adonis, how can she do anything other than sketch him? And when her private sketch is very publicly displayed, albeit by accident, how can said Adonis, Gabriel Lansdowne, Viscount Northcote, do anything other than marry her? With a certain amount of encouragement from her six large and very angry brothers of course! Esme is in two minds whether to marry to save her reputation or ride-out the censure of the ton when she suddenly catches a fleeting glimpse of Gabriel’s normally well hidden, jaded cynicism and self-derision and astutely realises that here is a man who is calling to her, rather like one of her menagerie of wounded wild animals. And so she agrees to marry him.
Esme and Gabriel are off to a less than auspicious beginning, although it doesn’t take long for them to start enjoying the pleasures of married life. In the bedroom they are very compatible, although out of it Gabriel can be prone to uncommunicative black moods, leaving bright, vivacious Esme at a loss to understand what she has done wrong. The answer is “nothing” – although she doesn’t realise it when it is happening and so is rightfully bewildered. Gabriel has shocking past which has shaped the man he has become.
Three weeks into the marriage, Gabriel dumps Esme at his unloved estate and leaves for London. He reckons without his beautiful young wife’s love and refusal to accept his dismissal of her.
I loved all of the characters in this riveting story; the Byron family are so well drawn, and I especially liked the twins, Leo and Lawrence. Esme is a delight – refreshing, kind, unashamedly sensual and in love with her husband. The gorgeous reprobate Gabriel is a man deeply wounded and just begging to be loved even if he won’t acknowledge it. Although the beginning of the story is light and witty with a comedy of errors leading to a shotgun wedding, there is also a darker, more serious vein running through the book which is revealed layer by layer and explains why Gabriel behaves in the way he does.
Happily Bedded Bliss is not quite as good as its predecessor, but this is an excellent story and I shall certainly read each and every one in the series as it is released and also tackle her back list when I have the time. My only real complaint, and it’s small in light of my obvious admiration, are the Americanisms and modern language dotted throughout. Nevertheless such was my enjoyment that I was in no way put off. Highly recommended.