Friday, June 5, 2015

Fluff and Fold (Secrets in Silk)

Review of four novels by Michelle Willingham: Undone by the Duke, Unraveled by the Rebel, Undressed by the Earl, and Unlaced by the Outlaw  

You know how Amazon sends out lists of reduced-price novels to tease you on the Kindle? Well, the last list of "30 Under $2" included nothing I wanted to read. Nothing at all.

Except every time I looked at the list, one title kept leaping out at me. Undone by the Duke. What the heck, it's only $1.99, I'll try it, I said. And the cover looked interesting...

Okay, I read it. No, I devoured it, then I ordered the other three in the series and consumed them at one gulp. These are not your soft-core bodice-rippers, with mannered ladies and gentlemen, tea in the parlor and innuendo on the veranda. You will find real sex, real passion, and real hot underwear in these novels!

Undone by the Duke

Victoria is trapped in her rural Scottish home by severe agoraphobia, yet she finds a way to escape by crafting silky corsets. Her "Unmentionables" are a big hit with fashionable women who can afford to wear such filmy garments, yet she must deal with the exclusive shop that sells them through an intermediary. It would never do for a socially-connected woman to be "in trade". Certainly not in such a trade!

With her mother and three sisters away for a London season, and her father away in Spain fighting, Victoria's silken secrets are all that provides an income for the financially-strapped family. The economic burden of displaced Highlanders camping on their property is further complicated by the arrival of a wounded man on her doorstep. 

Will the evil Earl of Strathland who burned out the neighboring crofters succeed in his plan to drive away the Highlanders and Victoria's family? Will fashionable London discover the source of the shocking lingerie? Will the wounded man succeed in drawing Victoria out of her fear of the outdoors? And just who is he? (You know, but you read on, because this is delicious stuff!)

Unraveled by the Rebel

Local Scottish doctor Paul Fraser, introduced in the first book, has long admired Victoria's sister Juliette. While he was at school in Edinburgh, Fraser had carried on a long, friendly correspondence with the girl, until she suddenly stopped replying to his letters.

We gradually learn that the Evil Earl had raped Juliette, made her pregnant, and relied on that ruination to persuade the girl to marry him. Instead, the valiant Juliette fled to her aunt in London, and went to Norway with her to have her child away from the prying eyes of the ton. When she returned, her aunt had a "son" and Juliette had no motive to marry the despised Earl. Sadly, though she yearns for children,she can no longer have them. Juliette feels ruined and unable to love, even the kind and undemanding Paul Fraser.

Will Juliette elude the obsessive Earl long enough to notice the genuine love Paul Fraser offers? If she does, will she be able to convince the Baron her father that although a Highlander, he is eligible? And how would they live as husband and wife without consummating the marriage?

Can the secrets in silk assist them to overcome these barriers?

Undressed by the Earl

Of the four, this is the closest to a conventional historical romance. Young Amelia is focused on the handsome Viscount of her dreams, ignoring the counsel of her older sister, her aunt, and the kindly widower, the Earl of Castledon. In fact, she reacts to Castledon's advice with a challenge of her own. She will draw up a list of young women who will serve his need for a stepmother for his daughter, and he will give her a list of men to pursue and avoid.

Amelia puts her prim sister Margaret's name on the list of prospects for Castledon to consider. Not surprisingly, the Viscount is at the top of Castledon's list to avoid. When the rakish Viscount kidnaps Amelia away to Scotland so they can be married without her parents' consent, Amelia needs to reconsider where her heart (and her passion) lies.

Unlaced by the Outlaw

Sober Margaret is the last of the four Andrews sisters to become enmeshed in the rewards and risks of the trade in silken secrets. Jilted in her engagement to the same Viscount who later kidnapped her young sister Amelia, Margaret finds herself "on the shelf" in this society that disregards older women as marriage prospects. Margaret will not likely find a husband now.

Already ruined, she organizes a pursuit of the Viscount and her sister that throws her into proximity with the uncouth Highlander who has been the go-between for the Andrews
sisters' exotic lingerie business. She knows she can trust Cain Sinclair. But can she trust her own heart?

Despite her prim and proper stance, Margaret will turn out to be the most daring and unconventional of all four!

Bottom Line:

Don't turn down novels just because they're in a genre you don't usually read! Sometimes some sweet fluff is just what you need to cleanse your palate between a couple of heavier reads...