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Book Cover Wendy the Super Librarian‘s review of Disrobed and Dishonored by Louise Allen
Historical romance ebook short story released by Harlequin Historical Undone 1 May 09

I’ve been reading quite a few sexy short stories lately and a popular theme keeps cropping up in the historicals. The heroine finds herself betrothed to a thoroughly undesirable beau and figures the best way to get out of the situation is to rid herself of her virginity. Sometimes this particular trope works for me… and sometimes it doesn’t. It all boils down to how well the author can sell the characters, and in this case I had a bit of a mixed reaction.

Jonathan Kirkland, Lord Redcliffe is playing the part of a highwayman to win a bet. His mission is to secure kisses, and tokens of proof, from five passing women. He’s done an admirable job so far, and only needs to land one more kiss, when Miss Sarah Tatton comes barreling down the road, on horseback, wearing an evening gown.

Sarah has just learned that the “good catch” fiance that her father secured for her is a lout who accosted her personal maid. She cannot marry such a vile man, but her father is unmoved and suggests the maid was “asking for it.” Sarah reacts by running off into the night, and now she finds herself confronted by the most perplexing highwayman. As they both start talking an idea strikes her. Her odious fiance only cares about her virginity. If this highwayman were to “compromise” her, her father would have no choice but to call off the wedding. Hooray!

In order for this story to work the reader has to buy the fairly preposterous plot. By all accounts, Sarah has led a sheltered, perfectly respectable life. Certainly marriage to the fiance is a despicable proposition, but Sarah goes from zero to sixty in a matter of seconds when it comes to the matter of her virginity. Something she’s been guarding her entire life and she’s ready to be gone with it in a blink of an eye. There’s really no hesitation on her part and it didn’t feel genuine to me. I’m beginning to suspect that the Please Take My Virginity plot only works for me in “gritty settings” and this tale is very much written in the vein of delightful, light, Regency romp. Hence, me not being entirely convinced.

That being said, there is certainly a charm in Allen’s writing, and the chemistry between Jonathan and Sarah is quite good. I also admired the way that the author tied this into her series about the Ravenhurst clan without making those characters feel intrusive. They actually had a role in this story and weren’t merely walk-ons to serve as series bait.

While I wasn’t completely enthralled with this tale, it was a pleasant read and had it’s charms. I suspect it will work better for diehard fans of lighter Regency fare.

Wendy TSLGrade: C+

Hidden behind a mask, Jonathan Kirkland, Lord Redcliffe, has disguised himself as a highwayman to win a wager: to collect kisses from the first five women who pass. With only one kiss left, victory seems easy…until he encounters Miss Sarah Tatton, who has fled on horseback to escape her vile fiancé.Distraught and desperate, the last thing Sarah needs is to run straight into the arms of a highwayman. But his heart-stopping kiss gives Sarah an idea—to lose her virginity in order to break her engagement. And the surprisingly gentlemanlike thief is just the man to teach her the art of love…at least enough to pretend that she has lost her virtue.
But as Jonathan and Sarah’s passion grows, all pretense must come to an end…
Read an excerpt.

Other books in this series:

Shocking Lord Standon Disgraceful Mr. Ravenhurst