Author: Nicola Cornick
Series: The Scandalous Women
of the Ton, book 5
of the Ton, book 5
Genre: Historical Romance
Source: Review copy from publisher
“Tess Darent’s world is unravelling. Danger threatens her stepchildren and she is about to be unmasked as a radical political cartoonist and thrown into gaol. The only thing that can save her is a respectable marriage. But when it comes to tying the knot Tess requires a very special husband – one who has neither the desire nor the ability to consummate their marriage.
Owen Purchase, Viscount Rothbury cannot resist Tess when she asks for the protection of his name. But he has no intention of making a marriage in name only. Will the handsome sea captain be able to persuade the notorious widow to give her heart as well as her reputation into his safekeeping?”
Desired is the fifth book in The Scandalous Women of the Ton series by Nicola Cornick and my second book by this author.
Teresa, Dowager Marchioness of Darent has a reputation on the ton as a woman of excesses, men, clothes, gambling and alcohol are her passion or at least is what she has let others think of her, but in reality Teresa is more innocent than many, she has serious issues with intimacy and she uses the gossip to hide her real self. The only accusation they could make of her is being the cartoonist supporting the reformist movement. But now her false reputation is affecting her, she is being blackmailed by a man who wants to marry her teenager stepdaughter. If that wasn’t enough she is in high risk to be discover as the infamous reformist cartoonist, if this happens she could be hanged for treason. She needs protection, she needs to find a new husband.
Here comes Owen Purchase, Viscount Rothbury, the only American man in the ton. Before receiving his title from a long distance relative he was a Navy Captain and now as a peer instead of living in excesses like many men of the ton, Owen is trying to make a difference in society. He is the Work Secretary’s man who is investigating the Reformist movement.
What better man for a husband than the man that is investigating her. If Tess marries Owen he won’t be able to prosecute her, as husbands cannot testify against wives. Also he could protect her and her step-kids from infamous people. The best part in Tess’ mind is that he won’t be expecting anything physical and intimate from her, if rumors are true he was seriously injured during the war and is not able to “perform” anymore.
Owen is surprised by Tess’ marriage proposal, he knows there is something more to it but he is very intrigue with this woman of ill reputation. He is sure there is more to her than what people talk and he wants to discover what is behind her façade. And even though she wants a marriage just in name, he wants a marriage in all the sense of the word.
Now that they are spending time together they are taking the risk of falling in love.
From the first moment I liked Tess, her combination of strong and damaged heroine made of her a very likable character, I liked that she fought for what she wanted and was willing to do anything to protect those she love, even to sacrifice herself. Almost at the end she lost some points with me when she broke her promises to Owen, Twice!! I really wanted to scream at her for doing it (I may have mentally done it).
Owen is sweet and caring. I loved that he saw behind Tessa’s façade and knew there was more to her than what she wanted other people to see. I also loved how steady and patience he was with her and knew to give her what she needed it when she needed it. The only think I didn’t like about him was his unnecessary lie about his “first love”.
I really like that they spend time together and started almost like friends who then fall in love and became more. What I didn’t like was the resolution to Tess’ intimacy issues. During the whole book we read countless times about her inability to be intimate with a man, she doesn’t even like to be touch by anybody and then in one night she gets over all her issues... Hmmm? sorry but I don’t believe that.
There is also a little parallel story about Tom Bradshaw, a character we know from previous books. Even though is implied something big is happening with him we didn’t see the “results” to that event. I don’t know if we are going to learn more it in future books or Mrs. Cornick thought it was enough with just the allusion to the situation. I know I’m being vague but I don’t want to give much away about this.
Desired was a fun and entertaining read. This book was perfectly pace and was getting a rating of 4 ½ paws until the last quarter of it when events started to rush and the resolution to issues felt forced and unrealistic. I know this is fiction but I think if these events had been better paced, they would have felt more real.
Even though Desired is part of a series and characters from previous books made some appearances I can say this book can be read as a stand alone without a problem. If you are a lover of this genre you will like Desired and Mrs. Cornick books in general, she is one of those authors with a very beautiful and unique writing voice.
My Verdict: 4 Paws
Other books in the series
Whisper of Scandal
One Wicked Sin
Mistress by Midnight
Other reviews Goodreads