To Bargain with a Rogue by Lana Williams
Tracy’s rating: 4/4.5 of 5 stars
Series: Wicked Widows’ League, #3 (Author Collaboration Series)
Release Date: March 28, 2023
Alicia Radcliff, the widowed Countess of Hawthorne is finally finished with her year of mourning and is ready to reenter society. She has decided that she deserves to enjoy the freedom being a young widow affords her, namely taking a lover to find out what she was missing all years she was married. But she needs to take care, because she has no desire to marry again nor does she want to shame her young son, nor does she want to fall in love. She is sure she will be able to avoid that trap, but that was before her son was in danger and she met him.
Matthew Aston, the new Earl of Slayton, never expected to inherit, in fact, he never planned on returning to England. But with the unexpected death of both his father and his older brother, Matthew had no choice but to return and take care of his younger sister Clarissa and the estate. He had no idea that the estate was in such dire straights or that his father and brother had wracked up such high debts. Even with the money that Matthew made while in the Caribbean, he realizes that he will have to marry an heiress and fast if he has any hope of saving the estate and giving Clarissa a season. He is delighted when he meets Alicia, she is everything he has ever wanted in a wife, she is kind, lovely, and rich. But she makes it clear that she will not marry again, but she isn’t averse to an affair and is willing to help launch Clarissa into society. Their affair is sizzling, but Matthew knows he has to marry to protect his sister and ends things, but soon wonders if he gave up too soon, can he convince Alicia that his heart is hers for the taking or will he have to settle for a loveless marriage?
This was a delightful, well-written short novel with very likable characters. The book has a little of everything, interfering relatives, spying servants, a once-bitten, twice-shy heroine, a hero thrown into an impossible situation, a creepy villain, a bit of angst, steamyish love scenes, a bit of heartache, and finally a very satisfying ending that leads to HEA. I did feel like there were some loose ends that didn’t get addressed, but overall they were minor and didn’t really impact the story. This book is part of a loosely connected author collaboration series and it does feature secondary characters from one of the author’s previous series, but the book can easily be read as a standalone title. I enjoyed this story and would be happy to recommend it and am looking forward to more stories in this 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.*