Reader’s Edyn

I always felt like I could do something more than just read. Finally, I have found both a creative outlet and a chance to do something meaningful with my reading. This blog was created in appreciation of and tribute to all of the authors who have brought me joy through their books. These reviews are my way of giving back to authors and providing recognition for the hard work that each one completes every day!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Review: The Wicked House of Rohan by Anne Stuart (The House of Rohan Prequel)

Title: The Wicked House Of Rohan
        (The House of Rohan Trilogy Prequel)
Author: Anne Stuart
Release Date: July 1, 2010
Publisher: MIRA
Category: Historical Erotic Romance
Type: Digital, Audio, CD


Desperate, starving, Kathleen Strong makes her way to a job interview that promises a chance at proper employment...and maybe a bite to eat. Accused of "gross immorality," she's adrift after being dismissed from her governess position, despite being entirely innocent.

That innocence is precisely what a mysterious group of debauched aristocrats finds so alluring about Miss Strong. When they propose a scandalous offer that she can't refuse...she can't refuse. But if the darkly gallant Alistair Rohan, a gentleman involved in all manner of wicked deeds himself, has anything to say about it, Kathleen can escape her disrepute in another way.

Of course, the escape route looks very similar to the group's illicit proposition itself...

Excerpt:             (from the kindle version)

By reading any further, you are stating that you are at least 18 years of age.
If you are under the age of 18, please exit this site.

1740, Venice
Miss Kathleen Strong was so hungry she could have eaten three of the pigeons that normally fluttered through St. Mark's Square, raw. The only problem being that they were wily little creatures, and every time she got close they flapped away, knowing that a scarecrow like her wouldn't be providing bread crumbs.
But today it was pouring rain. There were no tourists. The pigeons had deserted the place.
Still, she could be glad of the rain. It kept her awake and alert enough to make her appointment with Sir Wesley Marblethorpe. She hadn't had a bed in two days, and sleeping in an alleyway had its drawbacks, like rats and other nighttime predators. She had no weapon apart from a particularly nasty hairpin about six inches long, fairly suitable for jabbing a miscreant in the eye. She was long past being squeamish.
She was reasonably clean, thanks to the presence of water everywhere. Her serviceable gray dress was stained, to be sure, but she'd gotten most of the darker spots out, and she'd even managed to plait her hair in severe braids, affixing them to the base of her neck with the hairpin cum Excalibur. She knew that Sir Wesley would see her just as she was, a proper British governess, down on her luck, admittedly, but starched and proper enough; presuming he didn't look too closely, she would qualify for whatever form of employment Sir Wesley was offering.
If she got the job she might even have enough nerve to request an advance on her salary and she could liberate her meager belongings from Signora Montalba, the beady-eyed landlady who'd kicked her out two days ago. The very idea of asking such a boon made her shrink with shame, but her last meal had been a withered apple, and that was a day and a half ago. If she didn't get something to eat soon she was going to end up facedown in the Grand Canal.
Palazzo del Zaglia was up ahead, on one of the less busy campos. There were none of Venice's omnipresent cats around, and Kathleen wondered idly if she'd ever eat one. Probably not. She liked cats.
In truth, there was no way to tell for sure if this large, crumbling building was indeed Palazzo del Zaglia. She should have approached it from the water side, but she hadn't enough money for a gondola.
She would just have to hope for the best. The steady beat of the rain had turned her bonnet into a sodden mass that hung limply around her face, and her hair was plastered to her head beneath it. She would look unprepossessing indeed, but the advertisement said Sir Wesley was quite desperate. As was she. Surely a match made in heaven.
She climbed the cracked stone steps to the intimidating door and pulled the bell. Next she'd have to face a superior servant, who might just send her off with a flea in her ear. She had no idea what she'd do in that case.
But the man who opened the door was a far cry from a servant. A bit on the short side, with a little too much paunch and a simple bag wig set askew on a balding pate, he wore a well-trimmed goatee and had the smallest, meanest eyes she'd ever seen.
"Miss Strong?" He had a high-pitched, almost effeminate voice. "Miss Kathleen Strong?"
She wondered if she was supposed to curtsy. If she tried she might very well pass out at his feet, which would hardly improve matters. She managed a slight dip. "Sir Wesley?" she said hopefully.
"Indeed. But my poor Miss Strong, you're soaked! Please come in out of the rain and dry off. My friends won't mind waiting."
"Your friends?" she said doubtfully, relinquishing her bonnet and reticule into the hands of the supercilious servant she'd been expecting.
"Marcello, please take Miss Strong into the dining room or whatever the hell Alistair is calling it. Miss Strong, I'll be joining you in a moment."
Her brain hadn't melted in the Venetian rain, even if it felt like it. She knew, immediately, that this was not the kind of employment she was seeking. She should say she'd made a mistake, turn and get out of there as fast as she possibly could.
But where could she go?
Sir Wesley must have read the indecision on her face, and he smiled winningly, like a chubby, naughty little boy intent on mischief.
She'd dealt with naughty little boys and she knew just how to handle them. The grown version couldn't be so different.


Kathleen is unemployed. Thrown out of her governess job for being immoral, she is currently living on the streets and desperate for work. I am not entirely sure just how she finds out about an available job position she is to interview for – somehow I lost that detail. But she shows up and finds out that the position is basically to do what already lost her previous employment. Did that make sense? She is to participate in a ceremony of sorts that would end her virginity … which everyone believes is gone anyway. She may have lost her job based on lies, but with everyone believing she is now soiled, why not hear these men out? Rather a crude fate if you ask me. But innocence is what they are after, and innocence is about all that Kathleen has left.

Alistair, I believe, is just plain bored. One drunken night, he and his cronies devised a new order – The House of Rohan and someone came up with a hair-brained scheme that in order to begin this new group, one virgin must have sex with one member of the new found “society” while the others look on. I mean who comes up with this junk? But it makes for a wicked little story. A renowned rake, Alistair is nominated by the group (all too eager to see the master at work) to be “the one” who woos Kathleen before the group. Kathleen nips that in the bud right quick. She knows Alistair. He was, at one time, the object of her greatest desires and so she refuses to allow him to be the one to deflower her. Except the dense man does not seem to recognize her even a little … or does he?

So I wasn’t too sure about this story, but I went ahead and read it anyway. I have to tell you, Ms. Stuart sucked me in from the very beginning. The descriptions were very real to me and I found myself intrigued from beginning to end. I would most definitely love to read a full length novel from this author. If this is merely a snippet of what she is capable of, then she has the potential to become one of my “go-to” authors. My only issue is that everything was going very well and then all of a sudden … BOOM … over! The story came to a quick little ending with so much occurring in the space of a few pages, you have to wonder if Ms. Stuart was dead set on a specific number of pages and ended up cramming it all in. She could easily have turned this into a much longer book – possibly even a full length book. I do know that this is the beginning of a series, but I am not confident that Kathleen and Alistair are revisited. I would hope so, but it looks to be stories about the rest of the debauched members of this errr … elite group. In any case, I saw many components within this story that makes me believe I would enjoy further reading of Ms. Stuart’s books. If you enjoy erotic historical romance, you can bet you will most likely enjoy this author.

Kindle version purchased for personal library

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