Author: Victoria Alexander
Publish Date: April 2010 by Avon
Pages: 384, paperback
Reason for reading: Participating in Blog Tour/Giveaway courtesy of The Season.
Desires of a Perfect Lady is the second book in the series about the Harrington Brothers by Victoria Alexander.
Viscountess Olivia Rathbourne and Sterling Harrington were once young and hopelessly in love. Just before the announcement of their engagement, Sterling was approached by Olivia’s father with news that she no longer loved Sterling and was to marry a wealthy antiques collector instead. Heartbroken, Sterling banishes Olivia from his life…but never from his thoughts!Olivia has been trapped in a cruel and unhappy marriage for the past ten years. She was promised to the vile Viscount Rathbourne by her father who harbored a dark secret that would be made public if he did not ‘give’ Olivia to the Viscount. She attempted to contact Sterling in the hopes that he would rescue her, but her letters went ignored.
Now, ten years later, her husband is found brutally murdered and the killer is still on the loose. Worried for her safety, Lord Newbury (Olivia’s father) visits Sterling asking for his help in protecting Olivia. Sterling, not realizing that her marriage was a sham all along, is reluctant but finally agrees. After being estranged for ten years, their initial reunion is polite yet cold and distant.
Olivia only desires two things: the first is to bed Sterling one last time and close that chapter of her life once and for all, and the second is to be independent and truly free. In order for her to be independent though, she must collect the inheritance that is rightfully hers. What she does not anticipate is that even from beyond the grave her husband maintains control of her purse strings. She must fulfill three difficult tasks in order to be given her inheritance and she must seek help from Sterling to accomplish this.
I’m a bit torn as to how I feel about this book. There were some qualities that I liked and some that I didn’t like. Pros first! I found the characters likable and endearing. Once Sterling realized that letting Olivia go was his biggest mistake, he really makes an effort to win her back. He vows to no longer be the stiff, stodgy and dull Earl but rather to be charming and pleasant, which he was. Olivia no longer trusts men, and who could blame her, so she focuses her energies on being strong and independent. She never expects her old feelings for Sterling to come surging back. The dynamic between these two characters was enjoyable to read.
The plot is also intriguing. Her deceased husband sends her on a scavenger hunt to collect and retrieve three ancient artifacts in order for her to receive her inheritance. The only real flaw with the plot is that these artifacts should have been nearly impossible to retrieve and they have a rather easy time of it.
As for the cons, I found the synopsis to be a bit misleading. The synopsis implies that Olivia’s ultimate goal is to get Sterling in her bed. However, in reading their story it seems that it is more about Sterling trying to win Olivia’s heart back while she tries to gain some semblance of freedom. She does attempt to get him into her bed, but her attempts seem half-hearted and weak. My other concern with the story is that the mystery of her husband’s killer remain unsolved. I want to know “who-dun-it”.
I can’t say that Desires of a Perfect Lady will become one of my favorites, but I did enjoy the time that I spent with it.
HEAT LEVEL: 3-Sensual