After Miss Louisa Oliver broke her betrothal to Viscount Matheson, her step-sister and former intended was subjected to quite a scandal, due to the gossipping ways of Matheson’s friend, the dissolute Alexander Edgware, Lord Xavier. Matheson and Louisa’s step-sister got married, and the scandal passed, but Xavier isn’t really a favourite in the Oliver or Matheson family circles any more. So when Louisa, with her formidable aunt as chaperone, receives an invitation to his house party, rumoured to be quite a raucous event, she’s puzzled, but intrigued and accepts. Having accepted her likely fate as a spinster, she’d nonetheless like to experience a thrill or two, and what better way to practise flirting or stealing a kiss or two than at Xavier’s wild party?
Lord Xavier was orphaned at an early age and has had the wealth and freedom to do as he pleased since for as long as he can remember. Drinking, gambling, debauchery and wagering, he’s done it all, but it’s starting to lose some of its charm. Yet he’s known to never turn down a wager, so when his malicious cousin bets him that he can’t make a proper lady of good family attend his house party, no matter how shocking, and stay the full two weeks, he accepts. He had never expected his cousin to pick the bookish Miss Oliver, whose reputation he’s sure his cousin intends to tarnish. He needs to make sure that nothing too shocking occurs to scare Miss Oliver away, while guarding her virtue without being too obvious about it.
Early on in the visit, Louisa overhears Xavier and his cousin speaking about the wager and realises how much is at stake about her presence there. She decides to teach both the men a lesson and pushes herself out of her comfort zone, engaging in the festivities with an enthusiasm that surprises everyone. Xavier tries to keep her from harm by distracting her with his large and comprehensive library, but finds what he most wants to do is spend as much time as possible with her there. Louisa discovers that if you’re going to improve your flirting and kissing, there’s no one better to practise on than a rake in want of reforming.
My biggest problem with the first book in this series was that there just wasn’t enough plot to fill a full novel. At least in this story, I didn’t have to feel that, but there are still slow patches. More on my blog.