A debut that showed promise but left me a bit disappointed...
We first meet Viola Whedon when her house in being burglarized. Viola assumes an angry lord is at the bottom of the intrusion because she’s currently ruffling feathers by exposing details of all her previous lovers in a second volume of her memoir. But it turns out that Charles MacDonald is on the hunt for a treasure that is believed to be hidden somewhere in Viola’s house. However Charles’ cousin, Leonidas Vaughn, approaches Viola with a bit more subtlety, offering to protect her from future encounters with ruffians. Of course, being her protector gives Leo access to her house so he can search for the treasure himself along with the help of his cronies from the League of Second Sons. But Leo poses a deal to Viola - his protection in exchange for her pleasure. Can Viola, London's most sensual former courtesan, be seduced by this rogue?
Ripe for Pleasure is Isobel Carr’s debut novel, and while I was impressed with her writing and liked her style, some aspects of the story left me confused and even disappointed. I really enjoyed the treasure hunt part of the story, especially how it came to an end, even though I felt things wrapped up just a bit too neatly. I also liked how Leo and Viola’s class differences were illustrated and how the Vaughn family played a role. Leo’s friends from the League of the Second Sons were interesting characters but, as expected in a first book of a series, I assume their character development is being saved for their own books. And speaking of characters, there are a lot of them so keeping them straight may be a distraction for some readers. Ripe for Pleasure is a definitely a hot read and Leo really steams things up during his seductions of Viola, but what royally ticked me off is that we never see their relationship consummated. After all the build-up of their attraction, the encounter is mentioned only in passing after the fact. I actually flipped back to see if I had missed a chapter! It is such a shame because I never really saw Leo and Viola’s relationship shift from lust to love and I think that was a big reason why. The lust was always there, but the passion between these two people just never came through for me.
Overall, Ripe for Pleasure is a pretty good book but I won’t be truly sold on the rest of the series until I read the next book. The League of Second Sons didn’t seem like anything particularly special – just a group of guys with a catchy team name (and maybe a secret handshake). I’m hoping more about the motives behind the formation of the League will be fleshed out in the coming books.
My rating: 5 - I liked most of the book