This is book #2 in the Lessons In Love trilogy, and one I enjoyed very much. I cannot do it justice like Andrea did in her tribute to Saint, but I would certainly like to thank her for bringing this book to my attention.
Saint was the kind of rake who lived up to his name: he had numerous lovers and mistresses which he flaunted in front of the ton, their husbands wanted to shoot him, and gentlemen kept him away from their unmarried sisters, for starters. In fact any young maiden could be ruined just by being in his presence. Like say, oh, Miss Evelyn Ruddick.
Evelyn is a lovely young woman with a compassionate heart, and she is not pleased with her brother Victor, who seems to only notice her when he can use her to improve his political ambitions. His recent demand throws her into the dangerous path of the Marquess of St. Aubyn, who likes his women experienced and amoral. Evelyn manages to escape with her reputation intact; she holds no interest for him whatsoever.
Until she appears at the Heart of Hope orphanage, where he just happens to be the board trustee. Familiar with do-gooders who pretend to care for the less fortunate yet wouldn't stoop to getting their hands dirty, Saint dismisses the young chit, though he finds himself unwillingly drawn to her direct gaze and insistent personality. Still, he has plans for the orphanage, and they don't include letting Miss Ruddick have her way with her charitable ideas. And it certainly doesn't mean she can interact with the children.
Evelyn truly wants to help the children of HoH, but her wishes go against her brother's plans, so she must do her good works in secret. She also finds herself constantly butting heads with the devilish and sinful Saint. She knows he's only toying with her, yet she's still oh, so tempted to give in. His touch sets her blood on fire, and even though she knows it's wrong, she wants to give in and experience ecstasy in his arms. But even more important than her desires is the need of the orphans, and she must resist Saint's seductive charms in order to do right by them.
I really liked the interaction between Saint and Evelyn in this story. Saint is so very good at being bad, and Evie is tempted beyond belief to find out exactly what it would be like to have all that focus and passion directed at her. She is honest and straightforward with Saint, so she feels guilty for deceiving her family about her involvement with the orphanage. She's stricken at the thought of letting down the orphans who have come to depend on her. Yet she engages in a dangerously seductive game with Saint, who will allow her to see the children and go about her good deeds...for a price.
I loved how frustrated Saint was by his incredible attraction to Evie, and how he couldn't stop thinking about her, even going as far as to appear at balls and parties in which she was sure to be in attendance, places he had avoided like the plague in the past. But any event was infinitely more interesting when Evie was there, and he couldn't stay away from her. He was helpless to resist her pull, stubbornly believing that it was only because she resists him, and that once he has her in his bed, he'll be able to go on with his usual pursuits of drinking, gambling, and debauchery. Well, that's what he thinks...
As you can imagine, the two begin to develop strong feelings for each other. yet Saint cannot see himself marrying and becoming domesticated like his former friend, Lord Dare. But when Evelyn is expected to accept the marriage proposal of another man, will he be able to let her go? Of course not! Saint proves to Evie, and to the ton, that a rake really can be reformed. And delightfully so.
Rating: ****1/2 out of *****