Tracy’s rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Series (?): The Sweetest Taboo
Release Date: February 18, 2018
Wow! Just Wow…I was hooked by the dedication of this book and then the story just blew me away!
Oliver Carlyle, the Marquess of Ambrose is hosting a house party at his estate in hopes of finding a bride, his mother has invited several worthy candidates and he knows he should be meeting them, but he has found a diary, filled with secret, wanton desires and he burns to know who the author is. Oliver has been bored, his life while privileged is just not fulfilling. He longs for a wife and family, but he needs a wife who can be all to him, someone who can satisfy his darker sexual desires. He didn’t believe he could find such a woman, until he read the diary.
Twice widowed Lily Layton is currently working as a companion to the Marchioness of Ambrose. But she has just learned that the Marchioness has decided it is time for Lily to remarry and has hired a new companion. Lily does not want to remarry, two husbands was quite enough, she longs to open a modiste shop in London, but the Marchioness is not taking no for an answer. Marriage was not kind to Lily, her last husband was a vicar and belittled Lily constantly for her “wanton” ways. Lily began writing down her secret desires in a diary, which has gone missing. Terrified that someone will find it, she frantically searches for it, which leads her to a secret passageway in the house and into the arms of a mysterious stranger.
Oliver comes across Lily in the dark passageway, they keep their identities secret, but willingly share their sexual desires, all Oliver knows is that is mystery lover is the author of the diary. They share an erotic conversation and an incredible night of passion. Lily cannot believe that she allowed a stranger to do those delightfully wicked things to her body, she is torn between shame and arousal. She vows that she will not let it happen again and will hold the memory for the rest of her life.
The Marchioness plays matchmaker and insists that Lily allow Mr. Crawford to court her. Mr. Crawford walks her to her parents in the village and saves her when a reckless rider barrels towards them – the Marquess! Oliver stops to make sure Lily is alright and decides to join them, going as far as to insist that Mr. Crawford apologize to her when he turns nasty after she rejects his proposal. When Mr. Crawford storms off, Oliver offers to accompany her. They talk and enjoy each other’s company – when they return from the village and caught in a downpour, they take refuge in a hunting cabin. Oliver is attracted to Lily, but he will never engage in an affair with his employees – his father did and Oliver vowed to never repeat his father’s sins – he likes Lily and offers her a fortune to help him pick a bride and even more money if she will pose for him.
Lily agrees, excited that her dream of opening a shop will become a reality – she likes Oliver and has dedicated more than one entry in her diary to her fantasies about him, but she knows that she could never be anything to him. She wonders if he could be her unknown lover, but quickly discards the idea.
Days pass and finally the night of the Marchioness’ ball arrives, Lily has designed her gown and feels a bit out of place, but Oliver rescues her and asks her to dance. It is heaven and later she offers to pose for him. He is too tempted by her and sends her away, but instead of going to bed, Lily goes back to the passageway in hopes of encountering her lover. Oliver and Lily meet again and this time, he takes her to a darkened room, where they explore and pleasure each other – Oliver admits who he is and wants to know her – she is not willing to give up her anonymity – she knows his feelings about relationships with employees and doesn’t want whatever it is between them to end. But the truth does come out and by then Oliver is too far gone to object – he asks her to be his mistress and she agrees – but only until he takes a wife.
They go to London and she opens her shop, things between them are as hot as ever and she knows that she loves him, but she accepts that she could never be his Marchioness. For his part Oliver has never been happier, Lily is all he has ever hoped for, not only is she a perfect match for his darker desires, but she is his friend and confidant – he has stopped looking for a wife because he cannot bear the thought of losing her. When a near death encounter makes Oliver examine his life, he chooses Lily and asks her to marry him. At first she is opposed, she has a secret that will surely make him turn away, but he sincere declaration of love and her brother in laws words of hope lead her to accept.
They are gloriously happy for months, but soon Lily’s secret begins to weigh on her and she begins to pull away, sure that her secret will destroy their love. Oliver is confused by her withdrawal and wonders if he is to blame. Finally he learns the truth and is shocked and saddened – but it changes nothing in his mind, but can he convince Lily that she truly is his heart’s one and only desire?
This was an incredible read, the writing was great (there were a couple of typos and incorrect names, but I assume those will be corrected by publication), I will acknowledge that it is not for everyone, if you do not like explicit love scenes or cringe at certain “offense” words, this book is not for you. But if you like your love scenes SCORCHING HOT, then you do not want to miss this book. Oliver and Lily are both wonderful characters, their stations in life do make their HEA improbable, but not impossible. While the book has several love scenes, there is much, much more to this book than just sex, the obstacles that they must overcome to be together are just as well done and moving as the love scenes. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and am happy to recommend it.
*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an eARC that was provided to me by NetGalley and the publisher.*