Tuesday, October 26, 2010

In the Thrill of the Night

Meet the Merry Widows, a secret society of respectable ladies... with some scandalous ideas...

Assured of both money and position, none of the five friends who form the Merry Widows need ever marry again. But they have no intention of foresaking physical passion for the rest of their lives. So they make a daring pact -- each will consider taking a lover for the pure pleasure of it.

Marianne Nesbitt adored her late husband, David, but the racy reminiscences of the Merry Widows make her wonder if she missed something special. Might she find it now through a love affair? Uncertain how to go about it, she asks Adam Cazenove, an old friend and notorious rake, to tutor her in the arts of seduction.

The brazen request turns Adam's world upside down. He never imagined his best friend's very proper and exceedingly attractive widow would seek out a lover. If not for his own recent betrothal, he would jump at the chance to warm her bed. Since he cannot bear the thought of another man doing so, he foils her every attempt at seduction. Until one night of unintended passion changes everything...

Excellent start to the Merry Widows series!

Oh. My. Goodness.  I LOVED this book.  In the Thrill of the Night is book 1 of a three book series (plus one novella) about the Merry Widows... five friends who together maintain the facade of proper and respectable widows as trustees of a Widow's Benevolent Fund.  But when one of the widows takes on a lover, she tries to convince the other widows that they should do the same, or at least consider the possibility.

Marianne Nesbitt loved and adored her husband, but after hearing about the pleasure one of the other widows has found with her new lover, Marianne begins to think something may have been missing from her marriage.  Although she was and is still dedicated to the memory of her late husband, a part of her wants to see just what that missing thing may have been.  Next thing we know, Marianne has composed a list of gentleman that might fit the bill.  But she's still a bit nervous about the whole idea and approaches her best friend, Adam Cazenove, for his advice, opinion and ultimately his approval.  

Adam on the other hand is convinced he needs to just bite the bullet and marry and settle down for good.  So, one evening he suprises Marianne with the news that he's betrothed to one of the young diamonds of the season and while shock and disappointment darken the mood, Marianne drops a bomb on Adam as well, with her decision to find a lover.  

Adam and Marianne's relationship has always been a special one, which is written and described beautifully.  In short, Adam was David's best friend and David and Marianne were betrothed when they were still children.  So think of the three of them as the musketeers, in a sense.  All three were very close, with Marianne and Adam having an even closer bond after mourning the loss of David.

But as we move through the story, we see that the close bond Marianne and Adam share may hold more than either of them had ever thought possible.  With Adam now publicly betrothed, it shoots down even the fleeting thought of offering himself as her lover, but Adam later learns that perhaps Marianne and David's marriage wasn't as perfect as he always believed it to be.  Can he help her find the lover she is looking for?

I really enjoyed how this book was written.  The way the story unfolded was just masterful and I liked how the story kept moving along, enabling me to plow through this book in less than a day.  I also liked how Adam was protective of Marianne, upholding David's dying wish for him to look after her.  He wasn't too overly protective of the prospect of Marianne taking on a lover until she began actively seeking one... then the fun begins when we see Adam begin to realize his own feelings for Marianne.  Soon Adam begins to sabotage every opportunity Marianne finds and some of the results are hilarious, but at the same time, heartbreaking and disappointing for Marianne.  All the while, you can see Adam is just battling with himself... and then he remembers that he is the one betrothed!  So, why should he care so much?

I also really liked this story because contrary to the tone you may get from the cover blurb (at the top of this post) Marianne is not sleeping with everyone in the ton to find the perfect lover.  The story is spicey without being trashy in any way and it really turns into an emotional and uplifting tale about these two people who find love in a way neither had ever expected.  Plus you have the added subplot of Adam's fiancee which gives you a first-hand look at their relationship and the tangles it creates.

Book 2, Just One of those Flings, is next in the series, but if you read my review for that title you'll see that I started this three book series in the middle by accident. So, I'm off to curl up with book 3, Lady Be Bad.  I'm actually dying to dive into it because this is Grace's story and she is the straight-laced, proper bishop's widow who blushes furiously whenever the Merry Widows begin "comparing notes."  i anticipate another delightful read.  I highly recommend this series and suggest you do read them in order.  Book 2 actually overlaps the latter part of book 1 just a smidge, but from a different character angle.  I may go back and re-read the first few chapters of book 2 just so I can see the complete transition between stories. 

My rating:  9 - Loved it

The Merry Widow trilogy, plus one novella...     

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