I do not think that there can ever be enough books about anything and I say that knowing that some of them are going to be about Pilates.The more knowledge the better seems like a solid rule of thumb, even though I have watched enough science fiction films to accept that humanity’s unchecked pursuit of learning will end with robots taking over the world.-Sarah Vowell

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Potent Pleasures by Eloisa James

Charlotte Dalcheston, a Duke's youngest daughter, has just finished her schooling and is about to prepare for her debut into London society in 1798.  She is staying with her friend Julie in the country and her friend is besotted, at this moment, with the Revered Colby, who invited them to a masked ball the locals are having.  He tells her she needs to open her eyes to the real world.  What the two do not know is that this is the Hooker's Ball.  It is indeed attended by footmen and maids, as well as prostitutes, and the occasional slumming gentry and it is not at all a party for innocent ladies.  When they get to the party, the Reverend takes Julie off to dance, leaving Charlotte alone.  Then, suddenly she sees a man across the room with dark hair, shot with silver and she is captivated.  When he comes over, assuming she is a whore and begins kissing her, she is so surprised, she does not stop him. Soon he has taken her into the garden where things progress quickly, and her senses have completely overwhelmed her.  When he takes her virginity, he realizes the mistake and stops.  She tells him "Thank you" and runs off.  While she knows exactly what he looks like, she was wearing a mask and had her hair powered, but her skin was so white, he assumes she was a red head.  All he knows is that she has these amazing green eyes and that she smells of lavender, however, Charlotte was wearing an orange blossom scent (men are so clueless).  He believes she has to be a whore, but the way she acted makes him think she might have been a lady.  She believes he had to have been a footman.

When she returns home she refuses to have her debut.  Eventually, her mother manages to weasel out of her what happened.  She assures her that her husband will never know the difference and that maybe the footman wasn't a footman and will show up at one of the balls.  Charlotte's ball is a success, but she so upset that the man does not show up, that she starts crying and goes to bed before he does come by.  Alexander, the future Earl of Sheffield and Downes is there, with his twin brother Patrick.  Charlotte's mother, Adelaide sees them and thinks one of them might be the one, but she is not sure, so she decides to wait.  After all, the Season has just begun.  Unfortunately, their father sends Alex off to Italy and Patrick off to India.  Charlotte endures the Season but turns down the offers of marriage.  The next two Seasons pass quickly with Charlotte attending as little parties and dances as possible.  She has turned to her painting and has become quite accomplished and is content to live her life alone. Then her father decides to give her some property in Wales that is not attached to the Ducal estates so that she will be able to take care of herself and not depend on anyone and have an independent dowry in case she changes her mind about marrying.

Then one day, something snaps in Charlotte and she decides to have a makeover.  She gets rid of her old dresses and has her maid, Marie set her up with the most popular dressmaker and hairdresser.  She is the first to start wearing the daring French Empire waist gowns and gets her dark hair cut short.  Suddenly, her dance card is full and she is flirting with every man she meets and getting multiple proposals a week and turning everyone down.  She becomes friends with a saucy French girl, Sophie, and they tear up the town.  Then Alex shows back up in town.  With a one-year-old daughter, Pippa.  The gossips all say that his wife Marie asked for a divorce on the grounds of impotence and he gave no argument.  Even though he is now an Earl, and normally a catch, no one wants him.  He sees Charlotte and immediately wants her.  He is attracted to her, but he also needs someone to take care of his very frightened daughter who had a rough time of it when her mother died.  Alex had no idea that when Maria left she was pregnant with his child.  Frankly, he hated her so much, he was about to join the Dragoon army to get away from the cheating horror show of a woman he had married.  He would have said anything to get out that marriage.  Alex, however, does not remember Charlotte, and this, Charlotte cannot accept. This is the man who took her virginity and apparently, in her mind he does it so often he can't keep them straight.

The two are desperately attracted to each other, and even if Charlotte wanted to marry him, her father opposes the marriage on the grounds of his impotence.  It is hilarious reading about her father trying to explain this to her mother, so she can explain it to Charlotte, who is confused, because, as they say, the soldier still stands, but according to her mother, that doesn't mean he will be able to have kids.  Eventually, it all gets sorted out and they have the wedding of all weddings and the nightmares of all nightmares of a wedding night.  The things he says to her are unthinkable and unforgivable.  Things end up going downhill from there, but this a romance, so yes, there is a very happy ending, a good one. I don't know how many times I wanted to whack him upside the head with a baseball bat.  In my experience, though, most men need that from time to time, but this guy really outdoes himself.  How can you not recognize those amazing green eyes?  They're rare.  When you kiss her and touch her, how can you not remember her body?  He never forgot the girl in the garden; she was burned in his brain, but he could not see her right in front of him.  He really does not deserve her, even if you can understand how he is messed up about women from his first marriage, which was truly a horrid nightmare. But Charlotte is a good woman, not just to Alex, but to all those around her and helps supporting characters, whose stories are just as interesting.  I'm looking forward to the next book, which I predict will be about Patrick and Sophie.  It will be interesting to see how on earth the two of them will find common ground.

Link to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Potent-Pleasures-Eloisa-James-ebook/dp/B002X4BBL8/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1491399300&sr=8-1&keywords=potent+pleasures+by+eloisa+james

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