Mary Jo Putney
Nowhere Near Respectable
Zebra, April 26, 2011, $6.99
He’s a bastard and a gambler and society’s favorite reprobate. But to Lady Kiri Lawford he’s a hero—braver than the smugglers he rescues her from, more honorable than any lord she’s ever met, and far more attractive than any man has a right to be. How can she not fall in love…?
But Damian Mackenzie has secrets that leave no room in his life for courting high-born young ladies—especially not the sister of one of his oldest friends. Yet when Kiri’s quick thinking reveals a deadly threat to England’s crown, Damian learns that she is nowhere near as prim and respectable as he first assumed...and the lady is far more alluring than any man can resist...
Mary Jo Putney continues her Lost Lords series with Nowhere Near Respectable. In it, Mackenzie and Lady Kiri foil the attempted kidnapping of the teenaged Princess Charlotte and then work with a larger group to foil the larger plot to kill most of the Royal Family.
There's an interesting bit of role-reversal going on here. Lady Kiri is a Regency kick-ass heroine. She's the daughter of an English duke and an Indian princess and trained in hand-to-hand combat. She's not your usual English miss and she doesn't act like it. And that includes her interactions with Mac, where she is the instigator and aggressor of the relationship.
Mac is an illegitimate gambling-hall owner and knows there can be nothing between him and Kiri, and so desperately tries to behave honorably around her. He's an easy-going, beta guy and while he definitely is a hero, he does have a few quirks you wouldn't expect from your classic romance hero; for example, he faints at the sight of his own blood, poor boy.
'Steady now, Mac. Your arm is bleeding.'
Mackenzie stared at the dripping blood. 'It's … nothing.' He swallowed hard. 'Just a scratch.'
Then he crashed unconscious to the floor.
As Mac's wits emerged from dizzy darkness, he wondered wryly if there was anything worse for male vanity than passing out cold at the sight of his own blood in front of a pretty girl he wanted to impress.
He soon discovers, however, that there really is something worse for the male vanity than passing out cold. And we know that it is, don't we ladies?
Somehow she was on his lap, her knees bracketing his. They ground together, their bodies as urgent as their mouths. Common sense wasn't even a distant memory. All he could think of was Kiri—brave and irresistible, and more than a little wicked.
His hand slid up her left leg under her skirt, cupping the perfect curve of her derriere. 'Dear God,' he groaned. 'Kiri…'
He crushed her in his arms as he convulsed into shattering pleasure, and the horrified recognition of his madness. Dear God. He loosened his grip enough for her to breathe and buried his face in her silky, scented hair.
Panting, she said, 'Was that what I think it was?'
He made an effort to collect himself. 'I'm afraid so. My deepest apologies, Lady Kiri. I haven't behaved so badly since I was a boy.'
'Not half as sorry as I am!' Wild-eyed, she lifted her head and bit him on the shoulder. Hard. 'You are driving me mad, Mackenzie!'
Poor boy. Don't worry. He does better next time. And turns out to be pretty darned heroic.
Cheryl Sneed reviews for Rakehell.com.