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Dec 29 2016 11:00am

First Look: Manda Collins’ Ready Set Rogue (January 3, 2017)

Ready Set Rogue by Manda Collins

Manda Collins
Ready Set Rogue (Studies in Scandal #1)
St. Martin's Press / January 3, 2017 / $7.99 print & digital

Manda Collins rolls out her new historical romance series, Studies in Scandal, with brilliance. Immediately I’m swept into the plot of four young bluestocking maidens who have inherited the home of Lady Celeste Beauchamp. One of the recipients, Aphrodite Wareham, a.k.a. Ivy, travels by coach to her new home for the next year. And as you can guess, she encounters some difficulties. Luckily, Torquil Beauchamp, a.k.a. Quill, a.k.a. the Marquess of Kerr, is ready to offer the lady a helping hand. That is, until he realizes Ivy is one of the conniving women who somehow took advantage of his late Aunt, securing Beauchamp House.

Though she may be an independent scholar, Quill knows this seemingly innocent woman hiding behind her spectacles can’t be anything but a scheming social-climber, set on stealing the ancestral home that’s been in his family for four hundred years.

Begrudgingly, Quill takes Ivy to Beauchamp house when the coach leaves her stranded. And begrudgingly he hears the tale of how she was bequeathed a part of his Aunt’s home. But Quill is determined to believe these women took advantage of his aunt. Yet despite his misconceptions about the lady and despite Ivy’s sharp tongue toward the rude aristocrat, Quill can’t help be attracted to her.

She clenched her teeth, anger making her hands shake. “I wouldn’t marry you if you were wrapped in gold and carrying every last missing fragment of Greek poetry,” she spat… “You don’t want me or the other ladies to have it, but you don’t actually want it for yourself either. Just another family property to languish empty while you and the other Beauchamps ‘live your lives’ in your actual homes. What a charming portrait of aristocratic generosity you paint.”

Foshizzle, Ivy is no simpering miss, and her ability to stand up to the bullying of Quill is so satisfying. This is exactly what Quill needs, however. Someone that challenges him. Someone who breaks down his defenses. Moreover, his Aunt leaves a missive to Ivy, forcing the two to work together in order to unravel the mystery of Lady Celeste’s death.

Eventually, Quill recognizes the truth behind his Aunt’s settlement and Ivy shifts from enemy number one to partner in crime. Though there’s an attraction, he knows not to dally.  At least, that’s what he tells himself. Of course, words are weak in the face of action.

Pulling back a little, he looked up to find her green gaze lingering on his mouth. And unable to stop himself, he gave in to the temptation that had dogged him ever since they set out together that morning.

Pulling her against him, he covered Ivy’s mouth with his own, and kissed her.

Ivy’s main squeeze might be books, but this dalliance with Quill is intoxication.

And she was flooded with nothing but sensation.

His lips were soft. Softer than seemed possible. But more seductive than the most eloquent of Sappho’s lyrics.

And when she kissed him back, opened her mouth and leaned into him, Quill took full advantage of the invitation, stroking into her in a tangle of tongues that was more carnal than she’d imagined a kiss could be.

Oh, I just bask in the yumminess of their partnership. Both as lovers and as detectives. The more time they spend together unraveling the mystery of Celeste’s death, the more we see their characters develop individually and together. We see how beautifully they complete each other.

His kiss was everything she’d never thought she’d needed. At twenty-three, she’d long ago begun to suspect she’d never find her other half, that she’d be doomed to the same kind of solitude that Lady Celeste had endured. But she knew now that Quill was the one she’d been searching for.

Ready Set Rogue has it all. Mystery, chemistry, witty banter, friendship, and murder. And, Manda Collins expertly endears us to our main supporting cast, who all happen to be single. I’m confident Ms. Collins will ensure a love match for all of our singles. Mission accomplished with Ivy and Quill. Now that I’m thoroughly invested in the other three bluestockings and Quill’s cousin Serena, I eagerly await their stories. Right on, Ms. Collins, write on!

***

Learn more about or pre-order a copy of Ready Set Rogue by Manda Collins, available January 3, 2017:

Buy at Amazon

Buy at B&N

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Tanya is a fanatic of all things romance, dabbles in Happily Ever Afters under the pen name of Lily Kay, and teaches sociology part-time. You can follow her on twitter @tamushamu, @AuthorLilyKay, or on facebook.com/Authorlilykay.

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