The Temptation of Laura
by Rachel Brimble
Laura Robinson has always been dazzled by the glamour of the stage. But perhaps acting and selling one’s favors are not so different—for Laura must feign pleasure with the men she beds to survive. Now, with her only friend at death’s door and a ruthless pimp at her heels, escaping her occupation seems impossible. Hoping to attract a gentleman, she attends the theater. Yet the man Laura captivates is no customer, but a rising star and playwright…
Adam Lacey has been driven to distraction since the moment he saw Laura. She is his ideal leading lady come to irresistible life—and so much more. Certain they can make the perfect team on and off stage, he is determined to win her heart—and discover her story. But that is precisely what Laura fears. And she has no idea that Adam harbors shameful secrets of his own. Will the truth free them to love—or destroy all their dreams…?
“Laura.” His tone was firm. Probably firm enough to ignite that fiery temper of hers to explosion, but there was no way she was leaving. Not yet. He had to at least charm her to him more than hating him.
She spun around. “What’s wrong with you? Why are you so intent on seeking my company? If there’s something you want from me, why not be a man and just say it? You’re toying with me like a cat after a mouse. I’ve seen more masculinity in a dog in heat.”
He froze, stunned beyond laughter or offense. Her soft, dulcet tones had changed in her anger to that of an intelligent, knowing and mature woman way beyond her youthful and beautiful looks. Yet, instead of lessening the fire burning inside him, her displeasure stoked it. Attraction licked at his insides and rode all the way to the center of his stupid chest.
He could not remember when last a female spoke to him in such a way. She was glorious. He laughed. “Well, I guess that told me.”
“I’m serious, Mr. Lacey. For all your success and skill on stage, you know very little of how to treat a woman. I daresay the fancy, rich ladies who seek your company don’t know any better or they’d run the other way.”
The minx no longer scowled or spat feathers. Instead…she grinned. His breath caught. Her eyes sparkled and her gorgeous apple cheeks shone with a rich and rosy gleam.
He slowly approached her.
She tilted her chin, her smile still fully in place. “Are you daring to speak with me again?”
He considered every aspect of her face and especially her lips, before coming to a mesmerized stop at those deep violet eyes. “You are––”
The growl from deep within his throat was a new and fearful reaction. His mouth covered hers and he took without thinking. He swallowed her gasp and hitched her tight against him. His hands clasped a waist to tiny, so perfect; it fit in the splay of his hands.
He waited for her shove, her push––her slap, but it didn’t come. Her rigid body turned pliant as the weight of her hands rested on his shoulders. She kissed him back. Matching his need with equal fervor. She moaned into his mouth with a passion that sped his heart. Her hot tongue touched his. The glide of her hands to his neck and hair sent tremors of desire thundering into his cock.
Abruptly, she pulled back. Satisfaction, desire and––dare he think it––need, stormed in the depths of her eyes. Her lashes, as dark as night, sparkled with tears that shone like diamonds.
Adam shook his head. “Who are you?”
She grinned and swiped her fingers under her eyes. “More woman than you could ever handle, Mr. Lacey. Goodnight.”
She brushed past him, her glorious behind swaying nonchalantly from side to side as she waved and disappeared into the darkness.
My lovely English Rose has done it again. Most know that I read anything Ms. Brimble writes and love it. But there is something special and extraordinary about her historicals. She writes them with the reader in mind. Never talks down to you, leaves out the fluff and brings you a character rich story that has you rooting for the hero and heroine in the end. Plus, she always brings a villain in to the mix that is vile but at the same time, relevant not only to the book but someone who we can actually relate to. Okay, not that way but someone who we see in the news.
Regarding her heroines, like Laura, she brings a richness to them in speech, thought and actions. Laura can be found in The Seduction of Emily and plays a huge part in Emily’s story so it was nice to see Emily again, if only for a brief moment. 🙂
Couple of things that might turn off readers about Laura from the blurb: 1. Yes she is a whore. She is not ashamed of it, per se, it put a roof over her head and food on the table. At the beginning of the story, she has given it up to better herself and help her friend Bette get better.
2. Unfortunately, old habits die hard and necessity kicks in later in the book. I was sad and bitter about it but it does make sense in the end. Especially since Adam… (oops, almost a spoiler)
3. Yes, the pimp, Baxter is evil and will do everything in his power to bring her back to whoring and he is not above violence to do so.
All in all, Laura is the one person in the book that I truly rooted for. Yes, I loved Adam but with or without Adam, Laura could and did make it on her own. She had it in her all along. She just needed a push.
Adam, Adam, Adam…men are simple creatures, aren’t they? He wasn’t above whoring himself out to get what he wanted. In some ways, that’s what brings Adam down a bit for me. That one aspect of his character I could have done without. It wasn’t until the end of the book, he finally redeemed himself to me. And yes, see #2 above. I almost spoiled it. On the other hand, in dealing with his actress friend Monica, he was a sweetheart. Especially when the whole truth about Monica, Bette and Laura’s back history with the villain.
There were two times that my heart broke in this story. *Minor spoilers* It deals with Monica and Bette. Ms. Brimble wrote those two twists in such a way that I cried right along with Laura and Adam. I could not imagine losing a friend like that and then to find out that Laura and Monica have a more of history together than they ever thought of. Yes, Adam was floored too in regards to Monica but in the end, the plot twist was brilliantly handled and written.
I would be remiss not to mention the settings for which Ms. Brimble is famous for in her stories. Setting her stories in Bath and London, you can hear the ocean in Bath; smell the sea salt and back alleys for which Laura and Bette were able to find a home. In London, its dirt combined with wealth. London was a dirty place back then but the descriptions that Ms. Brimble writes about aren’t. (I’m sure that doesn’t make sense to some but read the book and you will understand)
I’m not sure if this review will make sense to a lot of people. I loved the book and can’t wait for the next one in the series. Don’t worry, you do not have to read them order. The problem I have in reviewing Ms. Brimble is the ability to NOT spoil it with quotes, spoilers, etc. I love reading historical romance and Ms. Brimble is above reproach when it comes to Victorian era romance. As most know, I’m not a fan of the Regancy period. Too much fluff for me but Victorian era I love. The heroines are smart, don’t necessarily need a man to make them happy and they go get what they want. Ms. Brimble brings that and more in her historicals. You should do yourself a favor and read one. You won’t be sorry.
One last thing…this book is a bit spicier than the first. 🙂 3 flames at best but this isn’t your grandmother’s historical. 😉 Oh and thank you Ms. Brimble for the…dang it. I almost did it again…just read the last chapters.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Rachel lives with her husband and two young daughters in a small town near Bath in the UK. After having several novels published by small US presses, she secured agent representation in 2011. In 2012, she sold two books to Harlequin Superromance and a further three in 2013. She also writes Victorian romance for Kensington–her debut was released in April 2013 and she has since signed for three more.
Rachel is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and Romance Writers of America. When she isn’t writing, you’ll find Rachel with her head in a book or walking the beautiful English countryside with her family and beloved black Lab, Max. Her dream place to live is Bourton-on-the-Water in South West England.
She likes nothing more than connecting and chatting with her readers and fellow romance writers. Rachel would love to hear from you!
Rachel will be awarding a $25 Amazon gift certificate to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour. Don’t forget to leave a comment and email addy. Good luck!