After being jilted by her former beau, Miss Amelia Wimple retreated to her Mayfair town house and her ever-growing collection of gossips rags. Now, almost two years later, not even her beloved cousins, Rose and Olivia Sherbourne, can persuade her to give love another chance. But an unexpected midnight caller may open her heart once more.
Lord Stephen Brookes is the prince of pleasure, the duke of decadence-and it seems his exploits have finally caught up with him. When Stephen comes to Amelia seeking refuge, she can’t deny him . . . or the intense desire he sparks. As he attempts to heal her broken heart, they indulge in a private passion unlike anything either has experienced. Stephen knows sweet, sensual Amelia is meant to be his one and only. Now, he will do whatever it takes to convince her that a rake really can change his ways.
This is a novella that's part of Barton's "Honeycote" series. I haven't read the first book (When She Was Wicked, about Annabelle who is to marry Rose and Olivia's brother), but I didn't suffer for it. Amelia is removed from the going-ons of the Sherboune family (for the most part) and her story was told independent of Annabelle's (save for a mention of a ball Annabelle was holding).
This was a short, delightful read. Amelia, though somewhat more of a pushover then she should be, proves her mettle. She won't let the past repeat itself, but at the same time she's wants so much more. Her mother makes it hard (and I suspect part of the issues Amelia had with her fiancee were in part because of her mother's meddling), but Amelia finds small comforts. Her pretend gossip columns about her 'scandalous' going-ons, her practical outlook that if Stephen was there anyhow why not take advantage of the time?
Stephen, who's reputation as a rakehell and gambler precede him, is genuine with Amelia despite himself. Her earnest request that he doesn't pretend with her bemuses him as much as it beguiles him. Amelia isn't angling for anything more then shared passion and a few stolen moments for herself. Whether she feels otherwise is moot--which she makes abundantly clear from the get-go--it won't get in the way of things.
The obvious obstacle that Barton uses to separate the two undermines some of the honesty that the two portray, but it resolves itself quickly enough. I think this is an excellent introduction to Barton's writing and will seek out the other books!