Desired by Nicola Cornick
(HQN, $7.99, PG-13) 978-0-373-77590-3
****
Lady Tess Darent is well known to the ton. Well-known for being flamboyant, promiscuous, and featherbrained which is exactly how she wants people to view her. Little do they know that she is actually a very intelligent woman that has a hand in leading the radical movement in London. She hides behind the faÁade for her safety from the law and from her past.

Tess has been married three times before and one of those marriages left her so scared, she refuses to develop meaningful relationship with men. Tess uses her marriages for convenience and it looks like she is due for another one.

Owen Purchase is an American sea captain that out of the blue came into the title of Viscount Rothbury. He currently works for the Home Secretary, Lord Sidmouth, who has been trying to take down the radical movement. He comes upon Lady Darent exiting a brothel wearing menís clothes and canít help but intercept her for a little talk. After she leaves, he slowly puts the pieces together and suspects Tess is involved with the radicals, but he decides to keep that information to himself for now.

Tess knows Owen is suspicious of her and she plans on proposing to Owen in a plan to keep her safe. If Owen marries her, then by law he canít be forced to share what he knows. Tess doesnít truly think he will agree, but she has to give it a shot. To her surprise, Owen does agree to marry her. Owen wants to play her bluff, but little does he know that Tess needs a lot more than his protection from the law and he discovers that Tess is the most unexpected and interesting woman heís met.

As with other Nicola Cornick books, the writing in Desired is faultless. It flows effortlessly and the interactions between characters are amusing and enjoyable. Both characters are inspiring, but I especially like Owen. He is a gentleman to the core by being tender, caring, and respectful. Heís very cute when he is on the verge of losing control and gets upset about it.

Desired is Cornickís fifth book in the six book series called the Scandalous Women of the Ton. There are some references in the beginning of the book that are a little out of place and is no doubt due to this book being part of a series. These references are not critical to the story and do not impact the plot, so this book could be read as a stand-alone if the reader chooses. This book is strongly recommended.

--Nichole Howell


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