She plays a deadly game, but nothing is as dangerous as love.
Benedict de Malorie, Earl of Trevisan, can never forget the masked woman he met one night at a London pleasure garden. The clever pickpocket stole his heart and his family’s prized jewel – the Malorie Phoenix. But the family treasure reappears in Benedict’s darkest hour, returned by its thief, along with the unexpected gift of his infant daughter.
Believing that she is dying, Jenny Smith leaves her daughter in the custody of the baby’s blueblood father. Seven years later she finds herself in good health and alone, yearning for her only child. To raise enough money to support them both, she takes part in a daring escapade that requires her to impersonate a woman of quality. She fools the ton and Benedict himself.
When Jenny finds herself entangled in a murderous plot against Benedict, the father of her child, her carefully laid plans begin to fall apart. All she wants is her daughter back, but she never thought she’d fall in love with Benedict. Revealing her part in the plot means she will almost certainly lose Benedict and their daughter forever. But continuing to play her role puts them all in terrible danger.
Jenny is a pickpocket and is working Vauxhall Gardens when Benedict de Malorie pulls her aside. He is interested in her and they end up having a liaison in a quiet path. While the man sleeps Jenny relieves him of a family heirloom. Unfortunately she finds that she cannot fence the stone and has to keep it.
A year later Jenny finds herself extremely sick and with a newborn baby she doesn’t know what to do. She locates the baby’s father and takes her to him thinking she’s at death’s door.
Seven years later Jenny is a courtesan who’s protector has died. She is approached by two men who would like her to impersonate a woman for two weeks and in exchange she will receive 5, 000 pounds. She looks on this as an opportunity to get her daughter, Sarah, back in her arms. She has missed her daughter terribly but to that point had never had the means to support herself and her daughter. She believes that once she has the money that she will be able to find Sarah and go on to live her life quietly.
Once she is impersonating Evelina things go a bit awry and she finds herself not only seeing Benedict but being engaged to him. Jenny had believed that Benedict would farm Sarah out to one of his tenants but Benedict actually lives with Sarah and loves her to pieces. Now Jenny doesn’t know what to do. She starts to fall in love with Benedict and of course is thrilled to be near Sarah on a regular basis but she knows she can’t marry him as she’s not who he thinks she is.
This book started off in a great way – with Jenny and Benedict and their tryst in the Gardens. Both of them are virgins and it’s just very sweet. After that I felt so much for Jenny as she honestly believed that she was about to die and truly wanted to do what was best for her young daughter. I admired Benedict for taking the babe into his arms and loving her as his own – as he knew she was.
The romance between Jenny and Benedict was tumultuous to say the least. Jenny had such feelings for Benedict and of course Sarah as well but she wanted to do the right thing and not make their lives a scandal – which it would be if she married him and then he found out that she wasn’t Evelina.
This is a where things got a bit rough for me in the story. While I really liked Benedict he started acting like a complete ass once he found out who Jenny was. He loved her but once he found out that she had been a courtesan couldn’t thinking of her as a whore. That bugged me to no end. Maybe thinking it once at first would have been ok but he thought it multiple times at different points in the book. He loved her but hated her as well as not trusting her. I can’t say that I remember reading a book where I started off liking the hero and then didn’t by the end – usually it’s the opposite. He wasn’t all bad and he did make up for it a bit at the very end but he did put a damper on my overall liking of the book.
In the end it was a good book. There were definite pros and cons in the story but overall I liked it. It had romance and a bit of intrigue that was blended well and that was a bonus.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5.