This RITA® Reader Challenge 2017 review was written by Fangirl Musings. This story was nominated for the RITA® in the Short Historical category.
A marriage of convenience ignites into a passionate love affair in the hotly anticipated second novel in New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Sabrina Jeffries’s addictive Sinful Suitors series!
When Edwin Barlow, the Earl of Blakeborough, agrees to help his best friend’s impetuous ward, Lady Clarissa Lindsey, in her time of need, he knows he’s in for trouble. He’s been hunting for someone to wed, and she’ll just get in the way. Although captivated by the witty, free-spirited beauty, he fears she’d be all wrong as a wife…if she would even take such a gruff cynic for her husband. Yet he wants nothing more than to have her for his own.
Clarissa has no intention of marrying anyone—not Edwin, whom she’s sure would be an overbearing husband, and certainly not the powerful French diplomat stalking her. But when matters escalate with the diplomat, she chooses Edwin’s gallant offer of a marriage between friends in hopes that it will deter her stalker. She expects nothing more than an amiable union, but their increasingly tempestuous kisses prove more than she bargained for. When her stalker’s vow to expose the lovers’ deepest secrets threatens to destroy their blossoming attraction, will their tenuous bond withstand public ruin, or will Edwin lose all that’s important to him to protect his bride?
Here is Fangirl Musings‘s review:
Sabrina Jeffries is a flower-crown-wearing romance QUEEN!
I shiteth you not, fangirls; when I say this book has all of the things, I do mean all of the things! Friends to lovers, bickering lifelong acquaintances, lessons in love, alpha heroine/beta hero, wagered love bets, opposites attract, an unrequited smitten hero, a marriage of convenience, and a dastardly stalker!
That’s right. I said dastardly! The trope gods have bestowed blessings on blessings with this OTP.
Our gal Clarissa has a fuckboi crazy stalker, so her cuz gets Mr Hero to play bodyguard. Edwin has crushed on our heroine for years, which is cute and understandable. Hell, my ass fell for Clarissa by page two and I hadn’t even met the woman yet!
Warren: It isn’t as if she hates you.
Edwin: No, indeed. She only challenges my every remark, ignores my advice, and tweaks my nose incessantly. The last time I saw her, she called me the Blakeborough Bear and said I belonged in the Tower of London menagerie, where ordinary people could be spared my growls.
CAN YALL HEAR MY LOUD LOVE FOR THIS DARLING?! I mean, sure, those words weren’t hers but dammit, I still got hooked by her spunk. She’s feisty as fuck, not to mention a lovable, extroverted social butterfly.
Clarissa’s a party girl with a smart brain that made my ass swoon sideways.
“People enjoy criticism of anything or anyone but themselves.”
A-damn-men! Now those words were hers, and hot damn I liked them. I freaking ADORED how this chick isn’t crammed into a cliched box. She gets to be lively and smart, while our hero? Well. He’s Mr Darcy reincarnated since he’s such a spectacular awkward duck around humans.
Oh, and he’s a nerd! OH JOY DOTH BE MY HEART, FANGIRLS. We got a nerdtastic hero! And if that weren’t happy-Jacquie-making enough, wanna know the icing on the romtastic cake?
He’s a beta boy!
Edwin: I envy you your ability to navigate society when I am so very bad at it. I am looking for a wife, you know. And finding one would be much easier if I didn’t insult women every time I opened my mouth.
Yep yeppers, you read that right; Edwin ain’t an arrogant butt-munch. Dude has the ability to admit his shortcomings and holy shitfire I loved that.
Our OTP trade barbs while playfully battling wits like it’s an Olympic sport. Even while on guard duty, logical and restrained Edwin constantly loses his smexy chill around firecracker Clarissa.
It’s all fun and games…until shit goes sideways and our couple gotta wed to protect Clarissa from stalker dude. This plot point is when I threw my bloomers at Edwin. Despite blackmail and being a frustrated smitten kitten, he never badgers or forces Clarissa into doing anything against her will.
See, she’s got a backstory that gives her fear-face regarding the marital bed. In turn, Edwin respects that. He’s all, “We can do the sex, not do the sex, live apart, live together, whateves ya want; JUST PLEASE MARRY ME SO WE CAN SAVE EACH OTHER.”
*Insert fangirl feels here for science reasons.* Even though he’s got serious lusty pants for Clarissa, he never actives the Douche Mode. And when I say “serious lusty pants,” I mean serious lusty pants!
“We should do something fun in the outdoors.”
How he hoped that her idea of fun and his were the same. But somehow he doubted it.
“What did you have in mind?”
“Going for a drive?”
To somewhere they could be naked.
Please let it be riding. But not on a horse. And definitely naked.
CUE ALL MY LOLS! Because sir. SIR! Check yo’self. No, wait, don’t- cause the smexy is what takes this book from fun to art.
Now of course, their previous lack of communication is what juices up the internal conflict. Edwin thinks Clarissa is no go for launch with the smex cause he’s shit. Clarissa thinks if she tells Edwin why she’s no go for launch with the smex, he’ll think she’s shit!
Double damn, man. You talk about a compelling-ass conflict. What’s more? A compelling-ass conflict that isn’t a torture to read.
Sabrina Jeffries creates realistic consequences while still giving our OTP a healthy sex drive. Clarissa’s internal struggle was respectfully dealt with even as we got ALL THE HOTTNESS.
The ovary-exploding theater dressing room makeout session…? The carriage ride with the asking of the kissing of the no-no bits…? Hot diggity damn, yall, nobody writes sexual chemistry like Sabrina Jeffries.
Hell, this woman can lowkey squeeze my heart with just a sentence. One sentence, people.
Her mouth was a revelation, showing him the difference between merely desiring a woman’s body and desiring her mind and her soul.
PARDON ME WHILST I BACKFLIP FANGIRL-FLAIL INTO THE SUN.
Our author queen can get the biggest reactions out of me from the simplest things. You know, like Hero Face asking if he can kiss the inside of Clarissa’s arm. Yep. My thirsty ass had my ovaries doing cartwheels; guilty as charged!
But more than the fun, cute shit, what made this book so damned good were its people. Our heroine’s trauma isn’t a plot device. It’s palpable within her character but it does not define her character. Same holds true on the Edwin front. His personal crap, like his trust issues and parental baggage, all get aired out to dry.
The internal conflict and romance layers in this little doo-dad were allllllll my catnip!
Here I sit, staring at my blinking cursor, TRYING to come up with a criticism against this book. I’m a picky bitch and there’s always something in a story that turns me grumptastic. But nope, I got nothing!
Perfect book is perfect. Sabrina Jeffries is queen; long may she reign!
This book is available from:
The Study of Seduction by Sabrina Jeffries
March 22, 2016
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