Instead, it’s the opening scene of A Wild Night’s Bride by Victoria Vane. And neither the nobleman nor the actress is very pleased about the situation. Especially since said nobleman, Sir Edward Chambers, sticks his still rather drunken foot in his mouth by calling the naked woman in his arms the wrong name when he wakes up.
No woman wants to be mistaken for anyone else in those circumstances–no matter how gifted a lover the man might have been the night before!
And just how did they find themselves in the King’s bedchamber? That’s the story! How did they get there, and why? And even more importantly, what happens after?
(The story takes place in England in 1783, so they wake up in Westminster Palace, and definitely the King’s bedchamber. Or one of them. It’s part of the fun.)
The heroine of this historical romp, for that is what it is, is Phoebe Scott. Unlike most historical heroines, particularly those of the English variety, Phoebe is not a lady, nor does she have any designs to be. Not unless she is playing one onstage. Phoebe is an aspiring Covent Garden actress.
Phoebe’s problem is that she wants to do her acting on the stage, and not on her back. But in order to get ahead, she needs a rich patron. And the only way to acquire a patron is to put out. Meanwhile, she ekes out a meager living as a wardrober for the actresses who are willing to entertain protectors.
The night that Phoebe decides she has to give in and play the strumpet onstage as well as offstage is the night that Sir Edward Chambers returns to London after three years of sobriety. Also three years of celibacy. Three years since his wife died and he holed himself up at his country estate to manage his affairs and raise his daughter.
It was inevitable (at least for the story) that Edward and Phoebe collide. Phoebe is a good girl who sees no way to become an actress except to be bad. And Edward has been a hermit for three years, and he has become a responsible man, after too many years as a rake and a scoundrel.
His friend DeVere still mostly hasn’t grown up yet.
When Phoebe comes to a house party looking for a patron, she thinks she is seeking DeVere. He’s rich and infamous, but she’s never met him. What she finds, is Edward Chambers. Ned has just enough darkness in him to be dangerously tempting. But Phoebe needs the patronage that DeVere can provide. Ned never pretends that he isn’t going back to his estate.
And DeVere finds it amusing to manipulate his friend and the actress. His friend Ned because he can’t believe the man he used to know could possibly return to a quiet life in the country, and the actress because he sees her as a pawn.
So a drunken bet leads the actress and the nobleman to a night in the King’s bed. But by that point, it’s a pretty open question about who is manipulating whom–and towards what end?
DeVere might even (perish the thought) be doing something good for his best friend.
Escape Rating B: A Wild Night’s Bride is a hot, steamy romp that leads to a happy ending by fairly circuitous means. This is one to read just for the fun of it. With bon bons. And a fan.
And I hope DeVere gets what’s coming to him in the next book in The Devil DeVere series (it is named for him, after all!). Watching some woman take him down a peg (or ten) is going to be well worth reading.
For more of my thoughts on this book, click through to Book Lovers Inc.