by Beverley Oakley
Daughters of Sin Series, book 2
Shy, plain Hetty was the wallflower beneath his notice…until a terrible mistake has one dangerous, delicious rake believing she’s the “fair Cyprian” ordered for his pleasure.
Shy, self-effacing Henrietta knows her place—in her dazzling older sister’s shadow. She’s a little brown peahen to Araminta’s bird of paradise. But when Hetty mistakenly becomes embroiled in the Regency underworld, the innocent debutante finds herself shockingly compromised by the dashing, dangerous Sir Aubrey, the very gentleman her heart desires. And the man Araminta has in her cold, calculating sights.
Branded an enemy of the Crown, bitter over the loss of his wife, Sir Aubrey wants only to lose himself in the warm, willing body of the young “prostitute” Hetty. As he tutors her in the art of lovemaking, Aubrey is pleased to find Hetty not only an ardent student, but a bright, witty and charming companion.
Despite a spoiled Araminta plotting for a marriage offer and a powerful political enemy damaging his reputation, Aubrey may suffer the greatest betrayal at the hands of the little “concubine” who’s managed to breach the stony exterior of his heart.
Originally published by Ellora’s Cave
Order in Digital Format
Publish Date: January 21, 2016
Heat Rating: Sizzling Romance
Praise for Dangerous Gentlemen
Romantic Historical Reviews
Genre: Regency Romance with mystery elements
Heat Level: Sizzling
Reviewer Rating: 4 Stars
“How, in Regency London, with all its rules and societal restrictions, was Ms Oakley going create a scenario where a respectable, wallflower, débutante who is barely ready for the spotlight could be mistaken for a prostitute?”
Review by Natalie
I have to be honest; when I first read the description of Dangerous Gentlemen, I was a little incredulous. It seemed to be an impossibly tall order! How, in Regency London, with all its rules and societal restrictions, was Ms Oakley going create a scenario where a respectable, wallflower, débutante who is barely ready for the spotlight could be mistaken for a prostitute? Well, it turns out not only does Oakley manage it but she does so without making all the characters seem like 21st century people masquerading as Regency characters.
Hetty is almost always upstaged by her older sister Araminta, who is the beauty of the family. What Hetty lacks in beauty (and of course beauty is always a matter of opinion) she more than makes up for in kindness and good sense. Hetty may not think she shines like her sister, but it is obvious that this opinion of herself is flawed after living in Araminta’s shadow for so long. In her first season in London, Hetty ends up casting longing glances at Sir Aubrey, a man of questionable morals who seems besotted with her sister. But soon Hetty, through a gut-wrenching case of mistaken identity, ends up in Sir Aubrey arms, mistaken for a lady of the night. I gasped at the impropriety of this arrangement before I remembered that I wasn’t actually part of the ton and had never lived in 1820s London.
The scenes between Hetty and Sir Aubrey were highly charged with Hetty forgetting herself and, a little naively, hoping for the best outcome in a terrible situation. Leading two lives, Hetty tries to unravels the mystery surrounding Sir Aubrey but she is forced to watch as Araminta tries to capture the eligible Sir Aubrey in the ballrooms of London.
Dangerous Gentlemen takes you on a seductive ride while still staying true to the character of London society. This book had me worried and overjoyed as I was reading and I couldn’t put it down!
**** 4 Stars
a read that feels possible, while is wholly entertaining and engaging, March 11, 2014 by Gaele
A fun and fast paced story, full of secrets, conflict and agenda mark the first book that I have read by Beverly Oakley. A sequel to Her Gilded Prison, this story focuses on the daughters from that story, now grown and in their debut. Secrets and slanderous intentions run rife through this story; set in the mid 1800’s when concerns for the traitorous behaviors of the Spencerian followers was at a high point as concern for the realm, monarchy and status quo for the gentry was in danger, and assassination plots were feared around every corner.
Two sisters, Hetty and Araminta are the main characters who drive the action. It is the high season: debuts and balls are never ending and the girls are presented to find themselves a match. Hetty’s first season is finding her more of a wallflower: both from her plainer looks and from her sister’s wholly derisive and belitting behavior. Araminta is wholly dislikable and self-centered, with not one redeeming feature. Hetty, in contrast, is gentle and caring; taking pains to see to others happiness and comfort.
At the center of the controversy is the most dashing man in London: Sir Aubrey, recently widowed when his wife took her life, his dashing appearance captivates both girls, yet there are rumors that all is not as it seems with the man. Hetty is, however, captivated, and must know more about the man who invades her dreams. When she is caught snooping in his guest quarters at yet another ball, his disheveled appearance shocks her, and the memory of the rumors that name him deadly dangerous send her into panic. For his part, Aubrey is expecting a home visit from a girl sent by the best Madam in the city, and believes that Hetty is that girl. Never protesting, she is a hesitant, then willing participation in the moment.
It was difficult to not like Hetty: her quiet and kind approach to the people in her life, with her desire to see only justice done, and her daring in searching out the answers was endearing: even as she was often utterly confused by the contradictory information. In contrast, Araminta was an utterly dislikable person: mean to everyone unless or until they were singing her tune and their use would further her own agenda. Not so bright, but as true to the day, pretty enough to not need personality; she has also set her cap for Aubrey: less for love and more to disabuse and distress her sister.
As the story progresses, the danger of the situation becomes more clear: if this proof, to this point hidden, is indeed what will exonerate Sir Aubrey in the eyes of the tonne, just who will be damned by the evidence, and who is really the plotter? While the suspicion about the who is the ultimate villain is never really in doubt, the twists and turns that the story takes are enjoyable and entertaining. Mixed with several more opportunities for Aubrey to encounter Hetty, including the discovery of ‘who’ she really is keep the story flowing forward. While she has lost her heart, she truly wants to find the proof and clear his name because it is the right thing to do: whether or not he realizes that they are a good pair.
Mixing historic events, sights and balls, with detail and description that help build the tension in the story, Oakley has managed to make a read that feels possible, while is wholly entertaining and engaging. Emotionally honest, especially in the interactions between the sisters, and with a few potential openings for more to come involving these characters, the story doesn’t have to end here, even as this book is complete in itself. A fun read for historic romance fans who are not averse to a more modern take on the sexual content, while not frequent, the sexual moments are steamy, detailed and well described.
I received an eBook copy from the publisher for purpose of honest review for the Jeep Diva. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.
“Dangerous Gentlemen” is a steamy romance with excitement and secrets between two lovers. Hetty is a reckless debutant who is forever in her sister’s shadow. Readers will come to love and empathize with Hetty as her rash behavior puts her in the arms of Sir Aubrey. Beverley Oakley has created a hero readers will both love and become frustrated over. He may seem to have few morals, but as his secrets are revealed readers will find him kind and vulnerable. The antagonist is revealed at the beginning, but his true motives won’t be revealed until the end, keeping readers on their toes. The excitement and danger leading up to the climax will have readers turning pages long into the night. The ending felt abrupt, and left me feeling as if there were still questions that needed to be answered. However, the ending gives Hetty and Sir Aubrey the life readers will have hoped for, and Oakley does a fantastic job keeping secrets hidden until the last possible moment. Romance fans will find “Dangerous Gentlemen” well worth the read.The Story:Plain and rather shy, Hetty always finds herself in her beautiful sister’s shadow, and when she spots the scandalous Sir Aubrey, Hetty wishes she were beautiful enough to catch his attention. Hetty gets her wish when a misunderstanding leads her into his arms, but her sister also wants Sir Aubrey and isn’t used to not getting her way. Hetty will have to fight for her love when Sir Aubrey realizes who she really is, and she must hope he chooses her over her sister.
Read an Excerpt
In this extract, Hetty, a debutante and viscount’s daughter, is returning from the mending room at a ball when she learns that a certain interesting and ‘dangerous gentleman’ is a house-guest.
With a furtive look around her, Hetty hurried left and up the stairs, at which point two corridors at right angles disappeared into darkness. Choosing the one to the right, she found herself face-to-face with a series of closed doors.
Foolish, she chided herself. Of course they were closed and she could hardly open them. As she turned back toward the ballroom, a faint light shining from the crack beneath a door that was slightly ajar gleamed beckoningly.
Glancing over her shoulder, she approached it, and when she gave the door a little nudge with her foot, it swung open.
Excitement rippled through her.
“Hello?” she asked in a low voice. She took another step into the room. “Is anyone in here?”
Silence. A low fire burned in the grate before which was a table, against which were propped several items, including a familiar silver-topped cane. Her breath caught. The last time she’d seen that cane was when Sir Aubrey had exchanged several words with Araminta in the street as Hetty had been bringing up the rear with Mrs. Monks. Of course Sir Aubrey had not looked twice at her, excusing himself before having to be introduced to the younger sister and the chaperone who’d nearly closed the gap.
Heart hammering, Hetty closed the door behind her and went to pick up the cane.
How fortunate to have stumbled into Sir Aubrey’s room, she thought when she observed the fine coat lying upon the bed, apparently discarded in favor of what he was wearing tonight.
He really was a nonpareil, wearing his clothes as if they were an extension of his athletic physique.
Yet he was dangerous, she had to remind herself. Meaning she should not be here, which of course she shouldn’t, regardless of whether he was dangerous or not.
But how such a scion of good breeding and genteel society could be guilty of such a heinous crime as treason, Hetty could not imagine. And surely the story of the runaway wife was a gilded one. It was all the stuff of make-believe and Cousin Stephen was only telling Hetty he was dangerous to curb her schoolroom daydreams.
Turning, she saw half protruding from beneath the suit of clothes what appeared to be the edge of a silver, filigreed box. It was partly obscured by the overhang of the counterpane, as if it hadn’t properly been returned to its hiding place.
A moment’s indecision made her pause but soon Hetty was crouching on the floor, closing clammy fingers around the box. Might it contain secrets? Ones that would reveal, conclusively, what Cousin Stephen claimed was true?
Alternatively, proof that would exonerate Sir Aubrey?
Hetty fumbled for the catch. Dear Lord, this was too exciting for words. Perhaps Sir Aubrey was a secret agent working for the English, and Stephen had no idea.
Perhaps he was—
Protesting door hinges made her squeal as the door was flung wide. Hetty let the lid of the box fall and retreated into the shadows as Sir Aubrey strode into the room.
He was breathing heavily as he shrugged off his jacket with a curse, raindrops spattering into the hissing fire as he raked his fingers through his hair. A curious stillness overtook him and he froze, obviously sensing all was not as he left it.
He sniffed the air. “Orange flower water,” he muttered, stepping closer to the fire, fumbling for the tinderbox on the mantelpiece to light a candle.
Immediately he was thrown into sharp relief and as he stared at Hetty, it was not his look of shock and suspicion that made her scream—but the copious amounts of blood that stained his shirtsleeves and once snowy linen cravat.
“God Almighty, who are you?” he demanded as his gaze raked her finery. “You’re no parlor maid, that’s for certain.”
Gaping, unable to formulate a sensible answer, Hetty finally managed, “What happened to your arm, Sir Aubrey? Are you injured?”
“Sir Aubrey, is it? So you know who I am but you still haven’t told me who you are?” He grunted as he looked down at his arm, the bloodied linen shredded over the long graze. “It’s not as bad as it looks and I assure you, I gave a good account of myself.” His laugh was more a sneer. “Indeed, my assailant lies dead in the gutter.”
Hetty gasped. “Dueling?” Myriad questions crowded her mind. Could this be to do with Araminta? Had Sir Aubrey left Araminta in the middle of the ball to fight some other contender for her affections?
“Dueling?” he repeated. He shook his head and Hetty drew back at the coldness in his eyes. “There was nothing noble about my activities this evening. I was set upon in a dark alley. A short scuffle ensued, I drew my knife, then…” With his hand, he made a gesture like the slitting of his throat, adding, “I am slightly wounded but as I said, my attacker does not live to repeat the insult.”
Her horror clearly amused him, for his eyes narrowed while his generous mouth quirked. He looked like an incarnation of the most handsome demon she’d ever seen depicted in the fairy stories she loved to read.
“We all have enemies, madam. Enemies who must be eliminated if we are to breathe freely.”
Aubrey was enjoying the girl’s wide-eyed terror. No doubt she imagined he’d sliced the throat of a footpad, not the snarling, mangy cur who had leapt upon him as he’d been returning from his brief assignation to settle a gaming debt incurred by his favorite reprobate nephew.
Taking pity on her, he said reassuringly, “Don’t worry. I won’t hurt you.’ Her wide-eyed look as he removed first his jacket, then the bloodied shirt he tossed upon the bed before he rose to his full height, bare chested, afforded him the most amusement he’d had in a long time. “So, you’re the girl Madame Chambon sent?”