Lady Eve’s Got The Perfect Plan
Pretty, petite Evie Windham has been more indiscreet than her parents, the Duke and Duchess of Moreland, suspect. Fearing that a wedding night would reveal her past, she’s running out of excuses to dodge adoring swains. Lucas Denning, the newly titled Marquis of Deene, has reason of his own for avoiding marriage. So Evie and Deene strike a deal, each agreeing to be the other’s decoy. At this rate, matrimony could be avoided indefinitely…until the two are caught in a steamy kiss that no one was supposed to see.
This book may contain explicit intimate scenes, so if you are not 18+ then I probably wouldn’t recommend it for younger readers.
With finishing the seventh book in the Windham series, we get to meet Eve, the baby, and the post petite of the family. She is spunky and well liked among the gentlemen, but she keeps them at bay due to her ‘indiscretion’ that happened to her seven years ago at the age of sixteen. She has received numerous proposals over the years, always rejecting their suits because of this.
“Evie, is there anything I can do?” The name had slipped out, harking back to a time when he’d been more an older-brother-by-association to his fellow officers’ sisters. “Evie?” She cuddled closer, like a suffering animal looking for relief. “My mama used to rub my neck. I hate this.” She was helpless too, he realized, and equally unhappy about it. How strange, that after growing increasingly quarrelsome with each other, they’d find pride as their common ground. This temporary truce put him in mind of the way the French and British armies would declare an unspoken détente regarding the use of rivers and streams flowing between their respective warring camps on the Peninsula. “Let’s try something.” He pulled a lap rug from under the padded bench and spread it over his knees. “Down you go.” With him braced against a corner of the coach, he eased Eve facedown over the makeshift pillow on his knees. When she made no protest, he found her nape with his bare hand and started a slow massage. “Does that help?” “Heavenly.” He could feel her ease somewhat, though in deference to her condition, the horses were moving only at a walk. “Shall I take your pins out?” “Please, God. I can feel them. My hair hurts.” He might have smiled, but her torment was obvious in her voice. Carefully, so carefully, he eased the pins from her coiffure, until her hair hung down in a long, golden braid. She was unmoving against him while he alternated between gently squeezing the sides of her neck and rubbing her nape.
Lucas Deene – we were introduced to him in the previous books – is our hero this time around. He is a friend of the Windham family and even has gone to the continent with her brothers during war. Lucas is a bit own on his luck and needs a bit of coin to help put the family fortune to rights which leads him to pursue the marriage mart in hopes to marry to help his situation.
“I am enamored of my new wife.” “I am in transports to hear it. Likely she is as well.” Deene turned and hooked his elbows over the mare’s half door. “I wasn’t aware a man bruited such sentiments about, or is this another aspect of domestic life about which I am too newly married to be knowledgeable?” Kesmore looked like he might be considering parting with a smile in a few weeks time, provided the weather held fair. “You’ll learn. They teach us, no matter we’re slow to absorb the lesson. Make the first time count, though.” “The first time?” “For God’s sake, man, the first time you tell her you love her. Make it count. Even His Grace knew that much.” “Of course I love her.” Who could not love such a courageous, generous, fierce, passionate… The words trailed off in Deene’s mind, disappearing into a mist of surprise, wonder, and joy. He was at risk for babbling and laughing out loud, for doing something outrageous, like kissing Kesmore on the cheeks. “Of course I love my wife.” The feeling settled around Deene’s heart, warm, substantial, and right. He loved his Evie; he would always love her. The certainty was his both to keep and his to share with her when the moment was right.
Lucas and Eve have a bit of chemistry from the previous books, especially during Christmas when mistletoe’s are strung about the Windham home – this leads them to sharing a few passionate kisses. Throughout the first part of this book, they, yet again, share more kisses which leads to Lucas to a bright idea, marrying Eve. They get on well, he knows her family and they have passion, the more he thinks about it, the better the notion becomes to him. So he proposes in a rather convenient non flattering way and Evie turns him down. You see, she wants a white marriage – in name only – and she knows Lucas would never agree to it.
Eve realized after about a week that her strategy wasn’t working. Part of the problem was that other than preventing Deene from starting his lawsuit, she wasn’t entirely sure what her aim had been. To keep him at arm’s length? That wasn’t happening. Each night, he made deeper inroads on her attempts to separate their routine: he brushed her hair, he attended her baths, he helped her into and out of her clothing, and he asked for her assistance with his. The staff was colluding with him, telling him when she ordered a bath, when she’d asked not to be disturbed in the middle of an afternoon. It was maddening, really, to find such a pleasant, considerate husband where Eve needed to find a calculating, underhanded, self-interested opponent. And if she’d intended to keep him from her bed? That wasn’t happening either. Each night he tended to his ablutions, then climbed between the sheets and took her in his arms. If she turned her back to him, he rubbed her back or her neck and shoulders. His attentions were unselfish, pleasurable, and in no way could Eve consider them intimate advances.
“You are the first fellow Eve has permitted to do more than sniff her hem since her come out, Deene. If she wants you, then I’ll deliver you to her trussed up like a naked goose if I have to.”
Not long after they are caught in a compromising manner by Esther and Louisa, which then results in her agreeing to marry him at last since she doesn’t wish to see Lucas or her brothers’ duel with pistols.
“I do wonder, you know.” Even though she wasn’t quite as prim and tidy as she had been thirty minutes earlier, Eve still managed to project an air of domestic calm. “What do you wonder about?” “Are all new couples as… enthusiastic about their marital duties as we are?” Her question was fraught with insecurity, making Deene regret his earlier reference to the damned succession. “Ask your sisters, why don’t you? I’m sure they’re dying to hear what you think of marriage and of my efforts as a husband and lover.” Her brows rose. “One doesn’t think to discuss such things, even with sisters.” “Yes, one does. I trust your reports will be flattering, so you can’t accuse yourself of breaching any kind of marital loyalty.” He frowned at her. “Your reports will be flattering, won’t they?” She beamed at him. “They will be adoring, Deene. Gushing, breathless, and quite appreciative as well. Also lengthy—quite lengthy and fulsome. And you’re right: Sindal, Hazelton, and Kesmore all needed either an heir or a spare. I’m sure my sisters will want to compare notes.” Which wasn’t at all what he’d meant. His muttered, “Hang the blooming succession,” however was obscured by a stout knock on the door. “Our staff knows not to knock softly when we’re behind a closed door. That ought to tell you something, Wife.”
With marriage to Lucas, Evie slowly returns to herself and manages to concur some of her fears that stems from her incident seven years ago. They have a few bumps and ruts at the beginning, but everything turns out just fine in the end.
As Deene ushered Eve through the door, he caught the duchess giving him a look. When their gazes collided, she must have gotten something in her eye, because it appeared for all the world as if Her Grace had winked at him.
I really liked Lucas and Evie together. I feel like they both had some sort of feelings for one another for some time. Also about mid way through, I had a hunch as to what her ‘indiscretion’ was as a bad fall from a horse couldn’t be that. I loved how Lucas knew all along about it, never judged her for it or thought less of her for it, he was kind and supportive to her for it. Another thing I found a bit humorous at times was when Lucas was a bit jealous and disgruntled by the fact that William, his horse, was smitten with Evie, he wouldn’t perform up to par in the paddock unless Evie was there for him to show off for. I also enjoyed Joseph, yet again, for some reason his small parts throughout the book tickled me.
“And when the fair Louisa takes you into disfavor, Kesmore, do you go charging forth into the bedroom, saber at the ready, risking all, only to have her freeze you with a look or a word?” Kesmore pretended to fuss the pillow under his arse rather than smile openly at Deene’s misery. “It might surprise you to know, young Deene, that the fair Louisa, particularly on those rare and mistaken occasions when she has taken me into disfavor, generally wants me to come charging in with my saber at the ready. She is not a woman who finds a propensity for pretty talk a winning quality in her swain, and I am not a swain to disappoint my lady.” “If I do ask Evie what she wants of me,” Deene said, glowering at the fire, “she will say, if I have to ask her, then I don’t understand what the problem is, or some such rot. Women speak in riddles when you most need them to be clear and direct.” “Why do you need to be anything? Many a considerate husband goes for a week without pestering his wife, Deene. The ladies become indisposed, they get preoccupied, they… need their rest.” Deene blinked. “I’m thinking of entering William in the June meet at Epsom.” “Ah. A show of preoccupation. Brilliant strategy, one heartily endorsed by the most proud and unsatisfied husbands the world over. Why don’t you instead find a cozy, private moment between the sheets and ask your wife not about lawsuits or scandals, but if she’d like you to make love to her? Tell her you miss her more than you’d miss the beating heart torn from your chest, and nothing would bring you as much gratification as seeing to her pleasure.” “What if she says no?” “I didn’t say you should necessarily ask her with words—or expect her to see to your pleasure while you’re about it.” Deene’s brows shot up. He was off the couch in the next moment and heading for the door. “Thanks for the libation. My regards to Lady Louisa.”
With only one book left, I can’t wait to see what is in store for the last Windham sister, Jenny.