Love is madness.
When Miss Charlotte Vale isn’t running a school for impoverished factory women, she takes tea with an insane painter—the mother she adores. Determined to avoid her mother’s legacy of madness, Lottie refuses to marry and nurtures the ton’s bemused disregard for her reputation.
Through her door strides a man who threatens all she holds dear. Her cherished school, her careful control and her guarded heart.
Sir Ian Heald has tracked his sister’s blackmailer to her last-known location—Lottie’s school. Although he would burn the place to the ground if it would save his sister’s reputation, Ian is drawn to Lottie’s bold candor and indifference toward polite society.
To find his sister’s blackmailer, Ian follows Lottie into a twisted world of illegal gambling clubs and eccentric parties. Even when their mutual passion ignites, Ian knows their affair cannot last. Lottie was never meant to be tucked away on his quiet pastoral estate, and she staunchly refuses his desire to wed. Yet fiery kisses and scandalous showdowns tempt this proper country gentleman to win the woman he loves and never let her go.
Warning: This book contains gambling in low-class clubs, deliciously deadpan dialogue, an unplanned swim to rescue doused women, and a fast, furious spanking. She wants it though, so that hardly counts.
This blurb came from the author’s website.
**BP NOTE: Lorelie Brown has agreed to provide a copy of An Indiscreet Debutante to one commentator. Giveaway instructions are at the end of the review.**
I read and enjoyed Wayward One by Brown last year so when I thought enough time had passed, I pestered her until she sent me a copy of An Indiscreet Debutante. Once again, Brown sucked me into a historical populated with unusual and entertaining characters. An Indiscreet Debutante is the sequel to Wayward One and focuses on Charlotte, known as Lottie, one of the three friends who run a school for impoverished women, providing them more opportunities. This school depends on the goodwill of the nobles to fund and donate materials so everyone involved in the school has to remain above reproach. For Lottie that is much harder then it seems given a mother with a hereditary mental illness and an absent uncaring father. Well her father really isn’t uncaring, he just cares only about his business interests and how he can use Lottie to further them. Into Lottie’s precarious house of cards comes Sir Ian Heald accusing Lottie of harboring common criminals and therefore threatening the school.
Lottie was such a complicated character. After a lifetime of dealing with her family situation, she rarely ever demonstrated a true emotion or feeling while in public or even with her good friends. This learned trait both helped and hindered her interactions with Ian. Lottie had three main goals, keep the school going, protect/shield her mother, and remain unmarried. Usually she was able to focus on the first two goals but her father was becoming more persistent about concluding a business deal with his neighbor through her marriage. As a result, she decided after their first few heated discussions that Ian was the perfect person to ensure she never had to worry about marriage, only that required his cooperation and he was resistant. Lottie also had not fully considered the ramifications of her actions if she was successful beyond hopefully remaining unmarried.
Ian loved his family. He would do anything to protect and make them happy hence his trip to the school. His sister married below her station but came home with the death of her husband less than a year after they were married. Her recovery and interest in life again was badly shaken when blackmail notes started appearing. The notes threatened to expose her marriage to Polite Society and thus ruin any chance of a prestigious second marriage. Ian was able to determine that the blackmailer was his former sister-in-law who he managed to track to Lottie’s school. Ian was desperate to regain or to keep his family respectable so while he was attracted to Lottie he did not want to jeopardize his family’s goals.
I found it fascinating to watch Lottie try to keep all of her encounters with Ian on a superficial level yet push for physical intimacy. Ian on the other hand, had to find out what was going on underneath Lottie’s surface. The more he got to know her and the circumstances around her family situation the more attracted he became to her. As they worked together it was fun to watch them grow and stumble along their journey. Their interaction with the supporting cast was also fun to see and cemented the facets of their characters. It was also a nice treat to see the hero and heroine from Wayward One in action and settled in their relationship.
Brown did several things with this story that I really enjoyed. First, she did not limit the surroundings to a particular part of historical London but took Ian and Lottie throughout several different class areas. She also didn’t shy away from the potential second and third order effects of Lottie’s plan. Third, she never devalued or held Ian up as the magical cure for Lottie’s fear that was behind her insistence to remain unmarried. An Indiscreet Debutant provided an interesting view into the lives of those classes not usually spotlighted in historical romances. Brown brought forward the aspect that within a close friendship things are still kept private and that what you see is sometimes only a fraction of what you get. She also highlighted the importance of give and take on both sides of a relationship in order to make it happen. I am looking forward to seeing what Brown does to her characters in the next installment.
I give An Indiscreet Debutante a B+
**BP NOTE: To enter the giveaway leave a comment talking about the most unusual historical you have read. Winner will be announced on Tuesday the 21st. Good luck!**