Sourcebooks Casablanca / April 2, 2013 / $7.99 print, $6.79 digital
Desperate, penniless, and shunned by his wealthy father, Darius Lindsey begins offering himself secretly to jaded society ladies. He hangs onto his last shreds of honor, but he's losing ground financially each month.
That is until the aging Lord William Longstreet makes Darius an offer he can't refuse: get the Lord's pretty young wife-of-convenience, Lady Vivian, pregnant discreetly, and he will earn enough money to never want again. But problems lie ahead when the stunning Vivian captures his heart, and his clients refuse to let him go. Can Darius untangle himself without scandal and offer himself to Vivian heart and soul?
Grace Burrowes’s Darius begins a new series called “The Lonely Lords.” It’s the story of Darius and Vivian, both of whom are trapped in unsatisfactory lives because of their obligations to others. Darius supports an illegitimate young relation and a number of servants turned off from his father’s estate, while Vivian married the much older William solely as protection from a nefarious stepfather, and feels obligated to make the most of it. Vivian and her husband are friends, but no more, and it’s clear to her that he will only ever love his deceased first wife. Both Darius and Vivian are very isolated even in the midst of the social whirl.
Darius has isolated himself, in some respects. To make enough money to support his household, Darius provides sexual favors to women in unhappy marriages. He isn’t happy to be performing these duties, as not only is he lonely for a true romantic relationship, but his clients are not at all kind to him, threatening his social status on several occasions.
William, in the meantime, wants Vivian to be happy, and will go to great lengths to ensure her happiness as well as her future income. Knowing his death is approaching, he wants to make sure she has a child, which he will claim as his own.
“Vivian.” His tone suggested marshaled patience, as he’d intended it to. “You are young. He’s comely and willing. For God’s sake, enjoy him.”
“It doesn’t seem right. You’re asking a lot of me, William, but do you realize what you’re asking of him?”
She would raise this. “I’m asking him to have his pleasures of my pretty wife for several weeks and be paid handsomely for it,” William said a trifle impatiently. “This isn’t a grand tragedy, Vivian, it’s a little holiday in the country that will solve many problems for people who are neither better nor worse than most of St. Peter’s clientele, provided you catch.”
I was intrigued by Burrowes’s exploration of the various infidelities of the upper classes and how those affected their social lives and their finances. Darius attempts to maintain his self-esteem by only permitting certain activities with his clients, but he’s beginning to realize that isn’t enough for him. While Darius is ashamed of what he does, despite trying not to be, William is much more straightforward in purchasing his services.
Darius turned his back to his guest and resisted the urge to slam his fist into the wall. “Despite what you’ve heard, my lord, there are limits…”
“You don’t swive them,” Longstreet said briskly, as if conceding an otherwise unimpressive mount had good quarters and a sane eye. “You won’t, in fact. Which is why you find me here, because any other man—any other young man with a need for coin and the ingenuity to go on as you have—would have taken what was offered and considered it his revenge on the feckless women throwing their money at him.”
…“I find this conversation exceedingly tedious…Good faith? You’re attempting to cheat the Crown, procure the intimate services of a worthless bounder for your lady wife, perpetrate a fraud on your patrimony, and you speak of good faith?”
“You’re young.” Lord Longstreet resumed his seat in another succession of creaks and totters, this time popping a knee joint as well. “You can afford your ideals. Imagine what might befall your family were your father to lost the Wilton title, his lands, his wealth….
A secondary relationship happens almost entirely offstage, popping in at unexpected moments, which was a distraction until I realized that Darius’s story was running concurrently with another romance, that of his sister, Leah. It’s clear she will be featured in another book in the series. Related to this, some major events in Darius’s life are not shown, but only referenced, leaving a few strange gaps; most of these, however, do not affect the main plot, which is Darius’s relationship with Vivian.
Burrowes explores a number of different types of marriages and sexual relationships, both happy and unhappy, in the novel while Darius and Vivian are both experiencing their first true romance, however unusual the way in which they first meet. In the end, their love is the central theme.
Learn more about or pre-order a copy of Grace Burrowes's Darius before its April 2 release:
Victoria Janssen is the author of three novels and numerous short stories. Her World War One-set Spice Brief is titled “Under Her Uniform” and is a tie-in to her novel The Moonlight Mistress. Follow her on Twitter:@victoriajanssen or find out more at victoriajanssen.com.