This is the second novel in the Aventurer’s Club series. And as usual with a Suzanne Enoch novel, I loved it.
The Rules: A lady should always make polite conversation . . . Theresa Weller understands the rules of decorum, and is appalled when Colonel Bartholomew James disrupts a perfectly civilized dinner. This rude, insensitive man is the complete opposite of everything a gentleman should be - but with one searing kiss, Tess can think of no one else. A lady should never lose her temper . . . Aggravated beyond bearing by a man who speaks his mind, Tess wishes there was a guide to men like Bartholomew. Surely, with such an assortment of handsome, polite suitors to choose from, Tess should not ache for him. And a lady should never pursue a gentleman. She invites him on carriage rides and dares him to dance, and almost makes him want to return to Society. Bartholomew knows Tess wants to be seen as a proper miss, but deep down, he knows she is precisely the sort to spark his desire . . . A most improper lady.
Colonel Bartholomew James has come home from India severely wounded. While his legs tries to heal itself wrongly, he gets a membership to a secret club hosted by the Duke of Somerset. To what purpose, he has no idea. When his brother and sister show up in town, he tries to hide out at the club, he doesn’t want their pity. But when they start asking about his whereabouts, his grace tells him to get himself home, he is not supposed to expose the existence of the club to outsiders.
His brother (who is recently married) forces him to meet his inlaws at a quiet family dinner. Tolly sets out to be offending, to rid himself of his family obligations. They don’t need to know about his ordeal in India, his nightmares and his inability to take care of himself. But that plan backfires, when he meets the lovely Theresa Weller and she won’t take his bad manners, she gives back as good as he dishes out, and to top it of: she invites him to a ball to watch her dance! Intrigued as Tolly is, he even gets an invite to the thing to be there to watch her.
Tess has already several serious suitors wanting to marry her, but being a heiress herself, she has no hurry to get married. Or is she just waiting for the right man? Cause Tolly makes her feel alive, and his kisses …
But then the East India Company sets out to deny the existence of the Thuggees in India, proclaiming it to be rumours. As Tolly is the only survivor known, there is no one to back his story up, meaning his reputation is in tatters, and he is seen by his peers as a coward, a liar, who left his men to die because of a mistake he made. But despite her tendency to be a proper young miss, and avoiding any hint of scandal, Tess stands beside Tolly. Together they plan how to get his reputation back. But of course the Company won’t sit and watch, they have thousands of pounds to loose if the truth does come out …
I really loved this book. Original, and a good story. A strong, wounded hero, who gets his life back on track because of the woman he meets. And an equally strong heroin, who decides that after 13 years of propriety, she is due for some improper behaviour, and who finds out, she likes it.