One Wicked Weekend (novella) by Charlotte Russell

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Hugh Drake attended the scandalous house party to help a friend, but what he found was a woman he could never relinquish.

FROM THIS NIGHT FORWARD

As a newcomer to Lord Bruton’s scandalous house party, Hugh Drake was to choose first from the proffered female flesh. He would take the woman whose eyes and body excited him most, whose lips and tongue would do all of the things he had been told a true lady never did. He would select the woman who would need all he wanted to give—and less. He would choose she who showed him both strength and desperation, and who would be the answer to his secret mission. He would choose an angel and a temptress, a protégé and a partner. He would choose his future wife.

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Publisher and Release Date: Boroughs Publishing Group, December 2014

RHR Classifications:
Time and Setting: Regency England
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2.5
Reviewer Rating: 5 stars

Review by Maria Almaguer

Ever since I read my first F. Scott Fitzgerald story in college several years ago, I have enjoyed and appreciated the brief format of short stories and novellas. It’s a skilled writer who can weave a tight and engaging story, with characters the reader cares about, in a small number of pages, and then reach a satisfying and happy resolution. Charlotte Russell, whose first book, A Spy’s Honor, I glowingly reviewed here a few months ago, has achieved that in this delightful house party romance.

Hugh Drake is a handsome and honorable gentleman, who resists his natural youthful and lustful sexual urges with a conscience drilled into him by his beloved grandmother. He is a kind and likable fellow with a solid sense of honor and duty.

Hugh is at Lord Bruton’s country house party – or, rather, orgy – to search for and retrieve a provocative and incriminating letter written by his friend’s fiancée. While there, he meets Catherine Trent, who he at first believes is playing the role of a stern-faced and serious governess, alongside three other women “entertaining” the gentlemen at the house party: a shepherdess, a milkmaid, and a housemaid.

The lurid plans of the party are for four gentlemen to indulge with a different woman for four days and nights. Initially, Hugh selects Catherine because he senses that she doesn’t really want to be there, a fact that pricks his protectiveness and sets off warning bells since he thought that all the ladies were there voluntarily. He wishes to shield her from the dissolute activities, a fact that Catherine finds charming, incredible, and endearing.

But Catherine doesn’t want Hugh to be too honorable, especially since she needs the money that Bruton has promised her for her willful participation in the party’s debauched festivities, and is prepared to do whatever she needs to do to secure it. Besides, she’s also very attracted to Hugh. But he steadfastly and reluctantly refuses her advances and charms with great difficulty. Hugh offers to pay her the promised money and take her to his pious grandmother for safety until she can procure a suitable position as a governess.

The affinity between Hugh and Catherine is infectious. They get to know each other during the party’s raunchy daily games and wagers as well as the candid conversations in their shared bedchamber. In public, they must pretend to be completely besotted with each other so they won’t have to change partners while remaining chaste in their bed, something that isn’t too hard to fake. But when Bruton begins to get irritated at Hugh’s apparent unwillingness to share and exchange bedmates, they realize that their time together is dangerously limited.

The secondary story of Hugh’s secret hunt for the damaging letter pairs nicely with the budding romance between Hugh and Catherine. Each learns of their respective pasts and secrets as the romance grows ever stronger.

Catherine is a refreshing and no-nonsense young woman, brave in the face of being a woman alone and without family in Regency England. She doesn’t cry and give up in frustration; she is determined to make the best of things and gets out of sticky situations with bravado and quick thinking.

Hugh eventually comes to appreciate Catherine’s independent and unorthodox views on life; he realizes she is more free than he is. The way these two find a common ground is presented in a sweet and fun way.

The sex scenes are scorching hot but always manage to advance the story. The sex games at the house party are shocking and wild but the way that Hugh and Catherine maneuver (and survive) them is quick-witted and funny.

One Wicked Weekend is a very amusing and entertaining novella. Charlotte Russell writes with a joyous and lighthearted quality and her characters are worth caring about. She is an author with promise and I want to read more.

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