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PRIVATE PLACES
ROBIN SCHONE, CLAUDIA DANE, ALLYSON JAMES, SHILOH WALKER
ISBN# 978-0-425-22172-3
August 5, 2008
Berkley Sensation/Penguin Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014
Paperback
$14.00
368 Pages
Historical Romance
Rating: 4 cups

The Decidedly Devilish Duke

Amelia Lockwood is a widow and dependent upon her deceased husband's cousin's good will to gain access to any of the money left to her by her husband. She was once in love with Michael Beaulieu, but lost him. Instead she married an older neighbor.

Michael Beaulieu, the Duke of Bretherton, was once a rash young man in love with Amelia. He is older and wiser now; also a widow and father to a young daughter.

When Michael sees Amelia again after ten years, he finds her far different than he remembers. Instead of the vibrant young woman, she is now the staid widow. When her cousin and his host challenges her to a card game with the idea of both humiliating her and preventing her from having the money she needs, Michael sees an opportunity and takes it. He offers to play Amelia in his host's stead. However, Michael is playing a far different game than Amelia first thinks. Will she figure it out?

This was one of my favorite stories in this anthology and Amelia by far is one of my favorite characters. In spite of what has happened to her, she is still emotionally strong and I admired that. Michael finally grew up and I found the man he had become far more appealing than he was described as being ten years before. Ms. James has spun a truly delightful read with very sexy love scenes!

A Night at the Theater

Zoe Auvray is an actress. She and her friend Sophia Grey are both courtesans. Sophia wants to help Zoe find a new protector, while she herself has decided she is going to marry.

The Duke of Aldreth, who Zoe has set her sights on, is a very sad man. He loves his wife, but because she almost died in childbirth with their first daughter he has with her permission sought his "entertainment" elsewhere. Zoe is a breath of fresh air for him. The Earl of Dalby has a score to settle with an old rival the Earl of Westlin who stole the woman he wanted to marry years before and now treats her very badly. He sees in Sophia a way to settle that score since she is the man's ex-mistress.

When one Mr. Jackson makes a wager that he can find out where Sophia marked the Earl of Westin when she kicked him out of her life, he takes on far more than he bargained for. Sophia decides to use the young man to make her point, as it were, and the bet is on. The Earl of Dalby is quite taken with Sophia and how she sets Mr. Jackson down, and in so doing also points out just how she humiliated the Earl of Westin, and it is not long before he gets quite close to her. The Duke of Aldreth figures out quite quickly that Zoe is not everything she seems, and while he tries to resist her, finds that he does not want to do so. Will these two couples find a way to be together and have what their hearts desire, or will the whole affair become sordid quickly?

A cunning tale about two women who decide to take their futures into their own hands, and in so doing procure their own best futures. I especially liked the parts about Zoe and the Duke of Aldreth and how she brought him out of himself and helped him to be happy. I would have liked to know a little more about Sophia and the Earl of Dalby's story in more depth. A great story from an excellent story teller!

Hunter's Mercy

Mercy Harper is a widow who hunts the rogue shifters who murdered her husband. She has also lost her brother to the American Revolution. Her emotions have become frozen because she has suffered so much that she is afraid to let them out. She has feelings for Jack Callahan but has not seen him for some time.

Jack Callahan is a cat shifter and he has returned home. He promised Mercy's brother he would look out for her and he means to keep that promise. He cares about Mercy but the little hellcat he remembers from before is no more, and in her place is a woman who seems only a shadow of what she was.

When Jack spots some feral shifters on his land, he is less than enthused because he knows they are dangerous and think nothing of killing and even feeding on humans. He discovers that Mercy is aware of the feral shifters and is actively hunting them, something that is very dangerous, and he knows that he must protect her. However, with Mercy sneaking out at midnight to hunt, and Jack trying to fight his very real attraction to Mercy, just as hard as she is fighting it is making that difficult. It is not long before they come together though, and the sparks fly. But what will Mercy do when she finds out that Jack is the cat she saw and injured with a silver bullet? Will she be able to reconcile the difference between a good man who happens to be a shifter and the feral shifters, or will she come to hate him?

This was another of my favorite stories in this anthology. Mercy's emotions are palpable and you can really feel her desperation to destroy all shifters, as well as her grief and willingness to die in order to stop them. Jack as the honorable man who just happens to be a shifter who only wants to look out for his best friend's little sister is the best sort of hero for any story. Ms. Walker has created a stellar story with extraordinary world building.

The Men and Women's Club

Ardelle Dennison is a young woman who has willingly given up her virginity in order to have the freedom to do what she wants to do, which is to be the first female publicist for the London Museum. However, she did not enjoy it, and even bedded down another man in the very boardroom she has meetings in to try and wipe out the memory.

Joseph Manning is a professor at the University of London and is the very man she had sex with in order to wipe the feeling of her first experience out of her mind. He is less than enthused with the fact that she used him and wants to have another chance with her.

When one of the women from The Men and Women's Club, a club where men and women discuss sex as well as other things, tells their secrets to the authorities, everyone involved is about to be ruined as far as polite society goes. However, instead of bemoaning the fact that they are about to be outed, Ardelle and Joseph decide that now is the time to live it up so to speak; after all, what have they got to lose?

A profoundly emotional and sexual tale from the very talented Ms. Schone. The first book I ever read by this author was a time-travel and she just gets better and better with each book. The descriptions of Victorian England are superb. The characters are realistic and the descriptions of their lives give us a bird's eye view into a time period where women were chattel and men ruled the world, and behind the scenes those like Ardelle and Joseph tried to effect change for the better. I really liked this story immensely!

Private Places is a wonderful collection of tales from some very talented authors. I loved the varied stories and the historical settings that ranged everywhere from Victorian England to the Regency period. The variety in this collection is just stunning and makes for some very fun reading!

Regina
Reviewer for Coffee Time Romance
Reviewer for Karen Find Out About New Books

 

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