Continuing with the critiques I started in 2015, here is the next in series – a book review.
Stars: 3.5 / 5
Provocative In Pearls is the second of the books in The Rarest Blooms series by Madeline Hunter published in March of 2010. This sensual plot is set between Verity Thompson and Grayson Hawkeswell, Earl of Hawkeswell who are reunited after the bride runs away on wedding night. Like all of her novels, Madeline set this series also in the historic period when arguments were dealt with duels while passions with fire under the shade of skirts and breaches.
I had read this book a long time ago but as a stand-alone. Then I had simply enjoyed it as I enjoy any romantic book involved with mystery and sensuality. However, now that I re-read it as part of the series for this review, so many things make more sense and gave a new light into the plot for me. I enjoyed it more reading it again too.
Grayson Hawkeswell had been married to Verity Thompson two years ago. It was a marriage of financial convenience - Grayson had lost most his heritage and earnings in debts made by his father and his marriage to Verity would come with considerable sum from her trust to him. However on the wedding night Verity disappears and nowhere to be found. And the court doesn’t declare her dead nor her trustee gives her share of trust to him nor the Church agrees that their wedding was indeed wedding since there was no consummation. He had also been the gossip of the people who think he might have had a hand in her disappearance, might even have killed her, with that famous temper of his. But, now he found Verity, alive and well, not too far from London, living with her housemates in the village of Cumberworth - living as Lizzie and being part of The Rarest Blooms business.
Lord Sebastian Summerhays had married one of the rarest blooms - Audrianna Kelmsleigh - this past summer (Their story is told in the first book Ravishing In Red. Check my review of that book here). Lizzie was one her housemates when Audrianna was living there and as the rule goes - one did not pry; one did not demand explanations - none knew that Lizzie was indeed missing bride of Earl of Hawkeswell.
Verity had a very strong reason to run-away. She was tricked by her cousin Bertram into marriage with Hawkeswell, by forcing her to accept so Bertram would not harm the woman she had come to love as her mother - Katy Bowman - and that woman's son - Michael Bowman. But Bertram had indeed harmed them and she had suspected that Hawkeswell had a hand in it as well. So she disappeared the wedding night because she did not want to be part of that conspiracy. Now that she was discovered she had no choice but to go back with Hawkeswell. Her plan is to get him his share of money as promised and secure and annulment from him. But Hawkeswell had other plans of his own to keep his wife with him for as long as possible. He had agreed for all conditions Verity put forth except for annulment and then asked for three kisses daily in return. Verity hoping to get that annulment somehow or the other agrees for the three kisses - for she was his wife after all. But she soon realizes that there are kisses and then there are kisses.
Will Hawkeswell succeed through his kisses to convince Verity that she is indeed the wife he wants? Will Verity succeed in convincing Hawkeswell that he is better off without her? What happened to Katy and Michael Bowman? Do they mean more to Verity than she lead on? What about the factory business that was left to her? Will Bertram cast his viles on it and thereby hurt Verity again? How will Hawkeswell win Verity as both a wife and as a lover? And Hawkeswell had no intention to bought again. So how will he cross that bridge would be more interesting to watch as the plot unfolds. How much harm really Bertram can do? Were her fears really true? Will Hawkeswell see the truth in her eyes with regards to Bertram?
Verity and Hawkeswell as they prod through their situation, some of their well-wishers help while some try to pry them apart- Mr. Thornapple (Verity's trustee), Katherine Johnson (A young woman that Verity helps), Mr. Krippin (Hawkeswell's Butler), Mrs. Bradley (Hawkeswell's housekeeper), Colleen (Hawkeswell's cousin), Mr. Travis (Manager of the iron works of Verity's factory), Mrs. Julia Ackley (Hawkeswell's aunt), NancyThompson (Bertram's wife), Mr. Drummond (Hawkeswell's valet) and Jonathan Albrighton (a magistrate with a mysterious air around him about his activities but one time friends with Hawkeswell, Summerhays and Castleford). Verity's friends from The Rarest Blooms stand among the allies for her at time and as enemies to Hawkeswell at times.
All of Madeline Hunter's plots are based on the same concept - some involve the hero and heroine getting married while some involve them in a relationship and end up in marriage at the end, some involve murder and scandal tying to the hero or heroine or both, more than often the hero is a Lord or a Marquess or a Bastard Son of a Lord or Marquess while the heroine is tied with the scandal to begin with involving herself or her father, and above all almost all the plots are set in historic period in England, Ireland or Scotland regions. Yet the characters are so very unique and so very complex. Similarly here also she has again a rake and scoundrel of a hero paired with a scandal-filled heroine who wade through the sea of conspiracies and murder / mystery and eventually find love and honor. And like always comes with surprising twists and turns that don’t make the reader bored of this plot.
Another easy breezy romantic-mystery plot that one can enjoy while lazing by that favorite reading spot in your home.
1) Now that two pairs have been completed - one woman each coming from The Rarest Blooms housemates, I am for sure certain the remaining two books will involve Celia and Daphne. And most certainly will tie in with the friends of Summerhays and Hawkeswell. However, I am still curious to see if any of the plots will involve Morgan Summerhays, the Third Marquess of Wittonbury. But sadly it seems remote with all the scandal he was center of and with healing of his injuries.