Genre: historical romance
Cover: nice, with a nice stepcover
What could be more tempting
Emily Portsman has a secret, and three years ago she decided the best way to keep it would be to work at the Tantalus Club, a notorious gaming establishment for gentlemen. It's not the sort of work a beautiful, well-bred governess would ever consider - unless she's hiding from her past and a man who wants to destroy her present...
Than surrendering to love?
Nate Stokes, Earl of Westfall, is a supremely accomplished former spy more at home on London's seedy streets than in any glittery ballroom. His peers know him only as a bookish fellow who can find anything - or anyone. When the Marquis of Ebberling hires him to find a murderess, Nate's search leads him to the Tantalus Club and Emily Portsman. In a game where no one is who they seem and when every conversation is a deadly dance of trust and desire, the only thing Nate knows for sure is that once he gets Emily in his arms, he will never let go...
Suzanne Enoch is one of my favourite historical romance authors, she manages to surprise me time and again with her original characters and plots, and I just love her writing style and sense of humor. The first book in this series was my very first 11 star review, I was just blown away with it.
Emily Portsman has been in hiding at the Tantalus Club for over 3 years now, ever since she witnessed her former employer, the Marquis of Ebberling, murdering his wife. Of course he puts the blame on her, as who is going to take her word over his? She was about to flee the country when she saw the advertisement in the paper about the Tantalus Club. So she has not set foot outside for 3 years, even though she has always loved to walk outside. Always afraid that Lord Ebberling would find her, and kill her as well, the only witness to his crime.
She really enjoys her job at the Tantalus Club, not so much the interacting with the blue blooded clients, but with her fellow Tantalus girls, and the owner and her husband. She feels safe, and among friends here. Her low birth is of no consequence, even though she never told anyone about it. She has made something more of herself than she should have been if she staid at home.
Lord Ebberling has not forgotten about the governess. He plans to marry again, so he needs to find her and silence her for good. And so he hires Lord Nathaniel Stokes, the new Earl of Westfall. Nate was a spy during the Napolean War, and a good one at that, but as he has become an Earl, he had to retire. Earls are to precious to risk in wartime. Nate never wanted to be an Earl, he did not expect his cousin to die so young and without an heir. The cousin who never took care of his impoverished in-law and her two young children. Nate is not really accepted by society yet, nor does he like it. Still, they provide him a way to continue his hobby, finding lots things. Be they family heirlooms, stolen art or even missing people. And since Lord Ebberling wants to find this murderess, who also stole an expensive necklace from his late wife, he is geared for the hunt.
Thanks to something his younger brother Laurence says (who has just been sent home from Oxford for having a “lady” in his rooms), he visits the Tantalus Club for lunch. As Laurie cannot keep his mouth shut about this new quest, Emily overhears them talking about finding a thief here. Nate sees her flinch, and knows she is hiding something, and perhaps she knows something. Lucille has told him Emily has been working here since the opening of the Club, and knows everyone. So when Emily asks him to join her upstairs for some private time, he agrees. Emily thinks to outsmart this bookish looking Earl, and find out who or what he is after, but his kisses soon muddle her brains, and they share a nice interlude in her bedchamber. Nate is not sure he has found the woman he has been looking for, but he does know he wants to see her again and find out her secrets. After all, he loves discovering secrets.
But if Emily is discovered, and handed over to Lord Ebberling, she will die. She does not trust easily, and of course she should not. Emily discovers she is not without friends when the truth comes out, they will protect her, no matter what.
I thoroughly enjoyed this story, and especially Emily. She is not a shy young miss, if she wants to take a man upstairs for some sex and companionship, she asks him. And for the clients downstairs, that is something to boost about. After all, all the employees are pretty young ladies of a good birth, and they are not prostitutes. Emily tries to outsmart Nate, but he is not so easily caught, not even with the help of Genevieve, Lady Diana’s good friend and right hand lady. And for Nate, for the first time not only the search is important to him, but also the result, and the why. He finds out he has a conscious and honor after all, and he will not betray Emily to Lord Ebberling. Emily knows she is a very common commoner, and she will never be able to marry an Earl, but she is content to be his lover for as long as it can last.
What is so unique about this series, is the setting, the Tantalus Club. A gentleman’s club were all the staff is female. Young and pretty females, who are down on their luck and do not want to live on the street or become courtesans. The so called gentlemen are to behave themselves, and if not, they are taken off the premises by the men who guard the ladies, and are banned forever. They can eat a very good meal there, read in the library, but most important, they can gamble. Even the croupiers are females. And every other Wednesday is a Ladies night, when their wives can come and play, and when all the staff is young and handsome and male. “Borrowed” from the other gentleman’s clubs in town, they are eager to serve the ladies and earn some nice big tips.
Of course the previous couples make an appearance in this book, as the ladies are all good friends with Emily. I really enjoy that, to see some more interaction with their husbands. This story was another original by Suzanne Enoch, I enjoyed everything about it. Suzanne has such a great writing style, the story never gets slow or stale, it is fresh and lively and surprising.
I do recommend her books, and especially this series, to all lovers of historical romances.
© 2013 Reviews by Aurian