When Niall Lindsey, the Earl of Margrave, is forced to flee after killing a man in a duel, he expects his secret love, Brilliana Trevor, to go with him, or at the very least wait for him. To his shock, she does neither and sends him off with no promise for the future. Seven years and one pardon later, Niall returns to England disillusioned and cynical. And being blackmailed by the government into working with his former love to help catch a counterfeiter connected to her father doesn’t improve his mood any. But as his role as Brilliana’s fake fiancé brings his long-buried feelings to the surface once again, he wonders who is more dangerous—the counterfeiter or the woman rapidly stealing his heart.
Forced to marry another man after Niall was exiled, the now widowed Brilliana wants nothing to do with the reckless rogue who she believes abandoned her to a dreary, loveless life. So having to rely on him to save her father is the last thing she wants, much less trusts him with….But as their scheme strips away the lies and secrets of their shared past, can she let go of the old hurt and put her pride aside? Or will the pleasures of their renewed passion finally enable them both to rediscover love?
A note: this book has one of THE most embarrassing titles ever, with a Bold and the Beautiful cover. Don’t judge it for that!
For those who are wondering about the heroine’s name: HERE is the origin of “Brilliana”. I liked the choice because it was historically accurate AND unusual. Character names in historical romance can become repetitive, but then authors usually make the mistake of going for anachronistic choices.
I really liked this book. It uses my favourite trope: the reunion romance. It also resolved a storyline that was hinted at in the last instalment in the series.
When I review so many books I do lose track of characters. Between the last entry in the series and this one I’ve read God only knows how many books, but at least forty in the historical romance genre alone. I do wish I’d gone back and reread the scenes between Niall and Brilliana before starting this one – you don’t need to, but it adds something.
There are so many secrets and lies between hero and heroine in The Pleasures of Passion. Niall had to flee England after fighting a duel, but Brilliana wasn’t free to run away with him in that moment. Both of them being young at the time, they were easy to manipulate into thinking each had betrayed the other.
This resulted in years of separation, and Brilliana being forced into marriage to another man, a man who died in terrible circumstances a few years later.
Now, this is the sort of angst I like, especially so when it’s done by a skilled author, as Sabrina Jeffries is. I love more than any other trope an angsty reunion, and I think the drama was drawn out for just long enough.
I always worry when the terms “spy” and “fake engagement” turn up in this genre. I’m not a fan of either, and yet in this book they both worked perfectly for me. The counterfeiting storyline gave the two of them opportunities to sort through the disaster of their failed relationship, and to get over their anger.
I was also happy with Brilliana’s little son, who read as a real child, not a Romance Novel Kid.
I don’t really have any complaints. Pretty much everything in this one worked for me, and it was one of my better reads by this author. And yay for a fair-haired hero!
I will say, though: having a character called “uncle Toby” was a little distracting for me. Uncle Tobys is a breakfast cereal brand!
Review copy provided by NetGalley.