I always read books out of their series order, it seems, and this one is no exception. In this case, however, it really made no difference. This book and the next one in this series, The Kiss, stand on their own (there’s a Quickie posted for The Kiss). A Dangerous Beauty, by Sophia Nash, is the passionate (emphasis on the word passionate, although it takes a while to get there) story of Rosamunde Baird and Luc St. Aubyn, Duke of Helston.

Rosamunde, the daughter of an Earl, thinks herself in love with Henry, the heir to the Helston title, and Luc’s older brother. When she procures a kiss from him, witnesses report something a little more sordid to her father and it snowballs out of proportion. Henry is forced to propose, and Rosamunde refuses him, knowing he loves another. She is cast out of her home and makes a disastrous marriage that lasts eight long, hellish years, until she is widowed.

Taken under the wing of Ata St. Aubyn, the Dowager Duchess of Helston and Luc’s grandmother in an effort to right a long ago wrong by restoring Rosamunde’s reputation, she falls in love with Luc when he offers to show her how exquisite the physical side of a relationship can be. Luc, whose take on marriage is not quite all wine and roses, feels honor bound to offer for Rosamunde when her reputation suffers a second time at the hands of a St.Aubyn. She loves him, and he loves her, in his own cynical and lyrical way (that’s a hint, folks, at Luc’s part-time occupation), but marriage between them seems an impossibility.

The one woman he wants has sworn not to remarry, and the one woman who wants him, Grace Sheffey (who by the way, gets shafted in this book and in The Kiss, when the men she falls in love with marry others) is unacceptable to him. What is a Duke to do?

There was one part in this book were I had to suspend reality briefly. You will probably know what I am talking about when you get to it, as a main character does something totally irrational, for which there is little explanation. But on the whole, this book is quite entertaining, romantic and, of course, formulaic. There is one scene in the later chapters that actually brought tears to my eyes, jaded soul that I am. You’ll recognize that one, too.

At any rate, reputations are lost, and restored. Love is found, denied and finally accepted. We get to see another flawed, endearing rake fall head over heels in love with the not so perfect woman, but this love boat takes a long, sweet ride to the dock.

I recommend it and it’s successor, The Kiss, Georgiana Wilde’s story, highly. And I am hoping that poor Grace Sheffey will eventually get to keep her man in the sequel of the sequel.

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