Pleasuring the Lady

Jess Michaels
Pleasuring the Lady
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Samhain Publishing
Release Date
November 2013
Book 2 of The Pleasure Wars
Erotic Romance, Historical Romance

Her mother's madness and her father's and brother's irresponsibility have relegated Lady Portia to the life of a wallflower. The only shining light in her life is her best friend, Ava, who is suffering a rift with her own brother.

Portia's quest to help takes her to the notorious Donville Masquerade in the hells, where—behind the safety of a mask—she witnesses shocking public acts of sin. And succumbs to the touch of Marquis Miles Weatherfield.

Unfortunately, they're discovered. And now, tainted by scandal, she and Miles are destined for a marriage neither of them want. But Portia makes a bargain that raises even Miles's eyebrows.

In return for saving her mother from the asylum, Portia will do anything Miles wants in bed. Shocked by his driving desire for Portia, Miles agrees. As they explore every wicked desire, every forbidden act that pleases them, they discover something that goes far deeper than flesh. But the lies that brought them together could be the very wedge that drives them apart.

Book Review by Bridget (reviewer)
Nov 21, 2013   [ OFFICIAL REVIEW ]
175 people found the following review helpful
Jess Michaels continues her The Pleasure Wars series with a heady tale of dangerous passions, damaging lies and true, abiding love. The historic aspects of her story, including the sinister nature of mental health care and the relative powerlessness of women make for an engaging, absorbing plot, while her lead characters perform a dance of desire and deception that will delight longtime fans and new readers alike.

Lady Portia resigned herself to spinsterhood a long time ago. A confirmed wallflower, her life consists mainly in keeping her mentally ill mother safe and out of the clutches of her conniving brother, who seems hell-bent on confining their mother to an insane asylum. But when her best friend tells Portia of a masquerade that is held in the shadows of London's worst hells, a place where all sins are permitted, Portia decides to take matters into her own hands.

She tells herself that she visits the Donville Masquerade only to find her friend's brother, but during her first visit, Portia finds herself in the arms of Miles Weatherfield, an old family friend, whose kiss fires a desire Portia never knew she was capable of feeling. When the two are found in a scandalously compromising position, though, and Portia is forced into marriage with a man who cannot look her in the eye.

To save her mother, however, Portia is willing to make a bargain with her new husband: she will indulge his every bedroom fantasy, if he will keep her mother out of the dreaded asylum. Miles, whose craving for Portia burns hot and unquenchable despite the debacle of their discovery, agrees, desperate to show his wife the true meaning of desire. But can a marriage survive on pleasure alone, or will the lies that brought Portia and Miles together eventually tear them apart?

Though fans of The Pleasure Wars series will remember Lady Portia from the first book, the chance to watch her come out of her shell and discover her own strength and desires is one that new readers will enjoy, as well. Portia has never been able to act for herself. Whether a victim of her father's recklessness or a pawn in her brother's machinations, she has always reacted, taking any pleasure for herself in secret. When she finally realizes the power she holds in her marriage, she truly comes into her own as a character. I found myself wishing that she would realize her agency much sooner than she did, however the journey that Portia made over the course of this story was quite rewarding, and her happiness truly well-earned.

Miles was quite the interesting blend of contradictions: a hedonist who is ruled by his passions, but whose honor will not allow him to turn his back on a ruined lady; a man who believes he cannot love or trust, but whose need for Portia is palpable early on in the story. Miles is a man who is marked by his past and his own doubts, and though his actions are not necessarily the purest, his heart is always in the right place, especially when it comes to Portia.

I have a long-standing issue with romances that involve misconceptions and untruths between the main characters, but on the whole, I found the falsehoods that threatened Portia's happiness to be handled well and believable. Her marriage is such a hasty, clandestine affair, and the priorities of the bride and groom so different--and so unfocused on the marriage itself--that it was understandable how their happiness could be put in such jeopardy. There was no denying the chemistry between them, however, or the physical attraction that bound them together while their hearts were still deciding.

All in all, I enjoyed this second installment of The Pleasure Wars a great deal. Jess Michaels is a master at creating heady, sensual scenes between her characters, and developing their initial lust into a love that is deep and undeniable. Though I would love to see a future heroine who is not portrayed as helpless, Portia's developing strength and individuality was quite rewarding, and the promise of future romantic entanglements to follow will certainly have me coming back for more.
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