‘Tis the Season for Scandal…
Years ago Lady Louisa Windham acted rashly on a dare from her brother, and that indiscretion is about to come to light. She knows her reputation will never survive exposure. Just as she’s nearly overwhelmed by her dilemma, Sir Joseph Carrington offers himself to her as a solution…
But Sir Joseph has secrets as well, and as he and Louisa become entangled with each other, their deceptions begin to close in on them both…
This book may contain explicit intimate scenes, so if you are not 18+ then I probably wouldn’t recommend it for younger readers.
I don’t know about everyone else, but I love reading a book with a hero that is wounded while in war,. I love their grumpy-ness, loner attitude and how they think their afflictions makes them different from the others and less likely to find love matches when or if they marry.
And in the measured, sonorous lines of sentiment he offered her, in the tenderness of his hand caressing her hair, Louisa found hope that even her husband—her dark, limping, occasionally ridiculous husband—might be a little besotted too.
I enjoyed Joseph from the beginning. His raspy voice and love of poetry is what drew Louisa to to him plus she wasn’t like the other simpering females who is after a title husband and money. Louisa is different from her other siblings, she is more scholarly – although she hasn’t attended college as it wasn’t permitted for women to do so at that time – , very good with math, and she loves her poetry as well. Louisa finds Joseph intriguing and interesting from the start and lets just say Joseph was smitten from the get go, but he never acted on his feelings causing Louisa to plant one on him.
Louisa turned to comply and felt his hand stroke down over her derriere and finish with a soft pat. There had been affection in that caress, also possessiveness and some male appreciation. “You like my bottom.” He paused in the act of toweling off his stomach, his smile sweet and masculine. “I adore your bottom. I am also more than fond of your derriere.” Bottom—a cavalryman’s term for grit, staying power, or heart. Louisa discarded her night robe and climbed on the bed, watching as her naked husband banked the coals, blew out the candles, and pushed the hearth screen right up next to the fire. “Husband? I like your bottom too.” He prowled over to the bed and climbed onto the mattress. “One suspected this was the case. I rejoice to hear it, though.” “I wouldn’t dissemble about something so important.” She expected him to come back with another dry retort, but instead he spooned his body around her, laced his fingers with hers, and kissed her shoulder. And that was answer enough.
Louisa watched her husband shave. He was careful, methodical, and efficient as he scraped dark whiskers from his face. He kept a mug—not a cup—of tea at his elbow throughout this masculine ritual, shaving around his mouth first so he might sip at his tea. “You missed a spot on your jaw, Husband.” Husband. Her very own husband. He turned, flecks of lather dotting his visage, and held his razor out to her. Not quite a challenge, but something more than an invitation. The moment called for a shaving sonnet. Louisa set her tea aside—tea Joseph had prepared for her—and climbed off the bed. She took the razor from him and eyed his jaw. “Were you trying to spare my sensibilities last night?” “You were indisposed.” They both fell silent while Louisa scraped the last of the whiskers from Joseph’s cheek. She appropriated the towel he’d draped over his shoulder and wiped his face clean. “I know I was indisposed, but you blew out all the candles before you undressed. I’ve seen naked men before.” She’d never slept with one wrapped around her, though. Such an arrangement was… cozy, and inclined one toward loquaciousness. “You’ve seen naked men?” There was something too casual in Joseph’s question. Louisa set the razor down and stepped back. “Growing up, there was always a brother or two to spy on, and I think they didn’t mind being spied on so very much, or they wouldn’t have been quite as loud when they went swimming. I attend every exhibition the Royal Society puts on, and the Moreland library is quite well stocked.” He kissed her, and by virtue of his mouth on hers, Louisa understood that her husband was smiling at her pronouncements. He gave her a deucedly businesslike kiss though, over in a moment. As Louisa lingered in her husband’s arms, sneaking a whiff of the lavender soap scent of his skin, she wondered if married kisses were different from the courting kind. “I have married a fearlessly naughty woman,” Joseph said, stroking a hand down her braid. “And to think I was concerned that I was imposing by asking you to share my bed last night.” “You needn’t be gallant. I talked your ears off.” And he’d listened. He hadn’t fallen asleep, hadn’t patted her arm and rolled over, hadn’t let her know in unsubtle ways that the day had been quite long enough, thank you very much.
Joseph is on the hunt for a wife as he is due to inherit a title – Baron – from one of his ailing relatives an also a other for his girls. Louisa is in a bit of a bind due to her publishing a book of naughty scandalous poetry on a dare several years ago – she tries to track down every copy with the help of her family – which leads hr into a compromising position at a seasonal party leading Joseph to proposing marriage to her to save her reputation, plus he deeply hopes she accepts as he really cares for her.
He kept moving, not reclining on his side of the bed but shifting and rocking the mattress as he maneuvered himself to Louisa’s side. “Hello, Husband.” She was on her back. He was plastered against the length of her, a particular part of him prodding her hip. “Greetings, Wife, and as much as I admire the embroidery on your nightgown, I will wish that article of clothing farewell without a pang—at your earliest convenience.” She covered her face with both hands. “Must you sound so merry?” “A merry season is upon us.” He peeled her hands away and kissed her nose. “‘Oh why does that eclipsing hand of thine deny the sunshine of the Sun’s enlivening eye?’” “You have that Wilmot fellow on the brain.” “No, I do not. I have something else entirely—someone else—on my brain.” He spoke gently, but there was happiness for him in what he contemplated. Louisa could hear it in his voice. “Joseph, there are things we must discuss.” He untied the top bow of her nightgown. “We can discuss them naked.” A second bow came free. “We can discuss them tomorrow.” A third, a fourth. “We can discuss them naked tomorrow, but, Louisa, you are my lawfully wedded wife, and the time has come for me to pleasure you to the utmost, which I am enthusiastically willing to do.” Those were not lines penned by any long-dead earl. More of Louisa’s bows came undone, until there were no more bows to undo. Joseph pulled the covers up around her shoulders and slid a hand across her bare belly. “I did not feel the cold in Surrey, Louisa, not as long as I thought of what these moments with you might hold.” God in heaven. “Joseph, what am I supposed to do?” He shifted back to regard her, his dark brows drawing down. “You do whatever you please, with one exception.” He kissed her collarbone, a sweet little tasting that might have involved the tip of his tongue. “You do not think your way through this, Louisa Carrington. A plague on me if you’re able to cling to ratiocination at such a time. You put your prodigious mind with all its thoughts, languages, ciphering, and blasphemy aside, and let the damned thing rest while I love you.”
He helped Louisa to her feet and draped her cloak around her shoulders, smoothing the fabric in a brisk stroke of his palms over her shoulders. In the next moment, he was tying the frogs beneath her chin, as if she were… His. His to look after, as he clearly looked after his daughters, his horse, his pigs. With Sir Joseph frowning as if the knot beneath Louisa’s chin must be done just so, she envied those pigs. When he’d taken a step back and was treating Louisa to a visual inspection, she lifted her chin a half inch. “Will I do, Sir Joseph?” “Put your gloves on, my lady. Your prophecy has come to pass.” He nodded in the direction of the windows then shrugged into his greatcoat. “My prophecy?” “It’s snowing, Louisa.”
After they marry, blackmailing letters arrives for each, threatening to expose their secrets. At first I thought Joseph secret was a doozy and boy did he get around while in Spain, but near the end, it is explained more in better detail, which had me thinking ‘oh it isn’t so bad after all’.
“I am in a sad case, horse, when I am comparing a lady, a duke’s daughter, a woman far above the touch of a common soldier, to my favorite breeding sow.”
Aside from enjoying Louisa and Joseph, I liked his daughter’s Amanda and Fleur , they were mischievous devils and took a shine to Louisa almost immediately.
“Papa said damn.” Fleur slapped her hand over her mouth as if to hold back her giggles. “Damn is a bad word. We’re not supposed to say damn, or damn it, or God damn it to hell, or—” “Cease.” Joseph wrapped an arm around her to put his much-larger hand over her mouth. He was outnumbered, though, and Amanda started up immediately. “Or bloody damn or damn and blast. If we were boys, you’d teach us how to swear and even belch, and we’d know how to far—” He ended up with two little girls wiggling off his lap, their giggles cascading behind them as they scampered a few feet away. “Enough, the both of you.”
After finishing Louisa and Joseph’s book, I am looking forwards to Eve and Jenny’s stories.