This is the third book in the Wicked Deceptions series, so once again I’ve dived into the end without reading the first two. I wasn’t too lost, however. This book focuses on Lady Sophia, the daughter of a marquess, and the hellion in question. Several years ago, a disastrous intimate encounter with a man she thought she would marry, has convinced her to remain single. Now her mission in life is to help women who are not as privileged as she is, specifically employees at one of the brothels. Some of them are disappearing, and no one else is trying to solve this mystery. To do this, she disguises herself as a man, as you do, and feels like she can take care of herself quite well masquerading as Sir Stephen. But then there is a question of a duel, and she needs to learn how to shoot a gun.
Viscount Quint is the man she turns to for help. They have a past relationship of sorts, and even though he pretty much broke her heart, (no, he’s not the above mentioned cad) she still has no qualms about going into his house alone after dark (through the garden and back entrance, of course). He doesn’t know about her masquerade at this point, and her request to learn how to shoot a dueling pistol is puzzling at best. Still, he goes through with it to a certain extent, but then she fires a bullet into the floor. His reaction to this is clearly what we know as PTSD, but he doesn’t want her to see him like that and orders her to leave. He’s become convinced he is going to die an early death from going mad, in the same manner as his father, unable to leave the house or deal with loud noises. This is a similar plot to Loretta Chase’s book ‘The Mad Earls Bride’ and I think it was handled much better in that book. At any rate, he believes he won’t be able to marry so as not to pass on any madness to future generations.
Naturally, Sophie doesn’t understand his problem, and intrudes on his personal space again and again. She brings him a puppy, she engages him in fencing, and generally exasperates him at every turn. Once he discovers what she is doing, he can’t believe how careless she is being with her safety, while he is unable to do anything to protect her. Eventually their relationship turns steamy, and since they are both convinced never to marry, they think they can fall into bed without any emotional fallout. The sexy scenes are graphic, but it felt like I was reading “Sex for Dummies” with some of the analytical descriptions in Quint’s POV:
“He knew she was close. Her clitoris, the distended vascular bundle of cells at the top of her cleft, was swollen and taut…”
“It went on forever, the thick, ropy strands of ejaculate expelling from his body…”
Bonus points – he does provide the French letters!
His old buddies come to visit, and immediately are concerned that Quint and Sophie are doing the deed. They are the heroes of the first two books, and from the reviews I’ve read on those, they were both asshats to their now-wives. They take Quint to task, warning him that he needs to marry Sophie to save her from ruination in the eyes of the ton. He tries to convince them there’s nothing going on, but it does wear at his conscience and he tells Sophie that their sexy romps have to stop. Things go awry after this, and she continues to venture out as Sir Stephen, triggering a kidnapping that brings Quint out of hiding and to the rescue.
There’s a bit of a twist at the end, with Sophie’s father, and some code breaking deal that Quint was working on, but I didn’t think it added anything to the story.
Overall, I liked Quint; he’s a different kind of hero, more of an intellectual geek than rogue, and I did enjoy that change of pace. As for Sophie, she’s supposed to be this crusading character, but sometimes she just seemed TSTL. It was a little hard to believe she would be able to sneak out every night as she did, even with the help of her trusty maid. I think the cover on the book should have portrayed her in pants, as she seemed to be wearing that more often than her gowns! Then the way she was going about curing Quint, without any kind of medical information on what was wrong with him, made his condition seem trivial. His type of mental anguish is not solved by kisses!