Tracy’s rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Series: Daring Ladies, #1
Release Date: October 19, 2021
After her mother died, Anahit Woodbridge’s father, Baron Woodbridge went into a decline and not only lost the family home but killed himself, leaving Ana to care for her young brother amidst the scandal. Determined to do right by her brother, she reinvents herself as Ana Gardner and takes a job as a chaperone/companion to Lady Penelope, the daughter of the Marquess of Malvern. She knows that she will never marry and have children, but with her thirtieth birthday looming, she decides to lose her virginity and enjoy a single night of passion, so she makes a deal with the madame of London’s most elite brother, The Silver Chalice. When the night arrives, she enters the brothel masked and dressed to seduce, she is immediately drawn to a man, who comes to her rescue when another patron accosts her.
Oliver Bedford, the new Earl of Drake had not planned to be at the Silver Chalice and certainly didn’t intend to spend the night with the masked lady in red, nor did he expect the lady to be a virgin! They spent a glorious night together and part ways, but Oliver knows that one night with his mystery lady will never be enough. The next day he returns and tries to learn her identity without success, much to his disappointment. Later he makes a call on Lady Penelope at his grandmother’s request and doesn’t immediately notice Ana, but she certainly notices him and is appalled to learn that Oliver is the son of the man who ruined her life!
Later when Oliver makes the connection between Ana and the Scarlet Lady, he can’t understand why she is so cold to him and vows to find a way to thaw her. For her part, Ana does begin to thaw when she realizes Oliver is not the same man his father and brother were. They begin a secret affair, but Ana keeps her secrets, knowing the truth will change nothing, and vows to not let herself fall in love. But things get complicated and when the truth is exposed, Ana may lose much more than just her heart.
This was a well-written, fast-paced book with an interesting and engaging story. The book has a bit of everything, steamy love scenes, secrets, lies, intriguing secondary characters, a mixed-race heroine who had endured some racial prejudice in the past, a hero who is just about perfect, a bit of heartache, and finally a very lovely HEA. I really enjoyed this book and am looking forward to the next book in the series!
*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an eARC that I requested and was provided to me by the publisher. All opinions in this review are my own.*