THE VIRGIN AND THE ROGUE – Sophie Jordan
Brambledon, Derbyshire, England – 19th Century
Kingston is the bastard son and only child of the Earl of Norfolk. His father is a dissolute and unconstrained man married to an equally dissolute woman. Once self-indulgent himself, Kingston has been celibate for thirteen months, ever since he visited his diseased mother's bedside. He doesn't know what he wants except to escape what he was.
Traveling and tired, he decides to visit his stepbrother, the Duke of Warrington, who has always eschewed the London lifestyle and his mother and her husband the earl. Kingston knows his stepbrother is not fond of him, but he only plans to spend one night. He is surprised his stepbrother is not living alone, but now has a wife whose sisters are living with the married couple. One of the sisters is engaged to a local young man, but as both are quiet and proper country ladies, neither particularly interests Kingston.
Charlotte and Nora Langley are now living with their sister Marian who recently married the Duke of Warrington (their story was told in THE DUKE'S STOLEN BRIDE). Nathaniel saved them from penury and has been very generous with both of his wife's sisters. Charlotte is determined to return to her deceased parents' home after she weds. Nora, an herbalist, gives Charlotte, who is suffering from pre-menses cramps, a draft to help ease her pain. During the night, a strange frenzy grabs Charlotte and she attacks her brother-in-law's stepbrother in a very sensual way until finding her own release. After returning to her normal self, Charlotte believes Nora gave her an aphrodisiac.
Certainly, Kingston was surprised that an engaged woman acted as Charlotte did, but he, despite his reputation, only let her relieve whatever was driving her. She did, however, spark the first interest he has had in any woman. He decides to extend his stay. Soon, without mentioning it, they are both seriously interested in the other. But Charlotte is engaged, and Kingston determined to avoid any close relationship. It isn't even until half-way through the story that Charlotte learns Kingston's given name, Samuel. He never uses it. While some of the behaviors of the two seem more modern than historical, it is important to remember emotions remain very much as they have always been, and they have always been strong motivators. How these two can resolve their many predicaments makes an entertaining love story.