RIPE FOR SEDUCTION – Isobel Carr
The League of Second Sons , Book 3
Grand Central's Forever
London and the English Countryside, 1785
Approaching five and twenty, the sole child (and principal heir) of the Earl of Arlington, Lady Olivia Carlow, sees no grand future ahead of her. Everyone, herself included, thought she'd made a grand marriage, but that was before she found out her “husband” already had a living wife. Now he's dead, and she just wants to live quietly in the country, but her father insists she must face down the scandal and go to London for the Season.
Lady Olivia—who is neither widow nor maiden—is now a prime target for seduction among the men about town.
A group of gentlemen belonging to the League of Second Sons drink together in their club one evening when lady Olivia becomes a topic of discussion. Soon a bet is made as to who will be the first to bed her. One of them, Roland Devere, foolishly writes her a letter stating his proposition. It's rather a sloppily written piece open to interpretation, though Livy knows just what he means. Still, as an instrument of blackmail—she sees it could be taken as an offer of marriage—she successfully coerces Devere into pretending to a betrothal until the season ends when she will call it off and retire from Society.
Oh, my! What a chain of events is set off by the mock wooing! And what a set of characters! There are the other members of the league, of course, and the families of both Livy and Devere. Livy has only her father, a male cousin, and a grandmother. Devere has parents: the Earl of and Countess of Moubray; an older brother (the heir) and sister-in-law; and a sister, the slightly racy widow of a French comte. Not all of them are delighted the way things seem to be going.
The title, RIPE FOR SEDUCTION, may refer to more than one or two characters. In fact, passions run hot in this novel, as do several love scenes. There is also some intrigue and not a little humor. The pages are packed with people and their doings. And if you like dogs, wait until you meet those at Olivia's childhood home.
A word about the League of Second Sons in case this series is new to you. This is from my review of RIPE FOR SCANDAL (September 2011): “Founded by a group of second sons of noblemen for mutual aid and companionship… Written into their charter is this idea : Our fathers and brothers may rule the world, but we run it. Important among these gentlemen is loyalty, honor, and the ability to count on each other.”
RIPE FOR SEDUCTION is part three of a fun (and sizzling) series of connected yet stand-alone books. I highly recommend it.