Title: A Brazen Bargain
Series: Spies and Lovers, Book 2
Author: Laura Trentham
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Release Date: January 26, 2016
Genre: Historical, Romance
ARC Received From: NetGalley
Reviewed For: Pump Up Your Book
Love soothes the deepest of scars.
Minerva Bellingham is at her wits’ end. Her younger brother, Simon, will have them penniless and on the streets if his extravagant gambling habit isn’t curtailed. An enormous debt to Lord Rafe Drummond is the final indignity.
Signing over her dowry is their only choice. Until Lord Drummond suggests something much more scandalous. She can keep her dowry—in exchange for the Bellinghams working three months as a housemaid and stable boy.
Scarred from his service to the Crown, Rafe recognizes the young Simon Bellingham has the makings of a good duke. Minerva is a different story. Her pure, delicate beauty only underscores Rafe’s tarnished, bleak soul.
Yet he delights in cracking Minerva’s icy reserve to reveal a fiery, stubborn woman. And Minerva discovers the gruff master of Wintermarsh has the heart of a poet. But before they can find a future safe in each other’s arms, a menace from Simon’s licentious past slithers back into their lives, forcing Rafe to plan the most important rescue mission of his life.
Warning: Contains a paragon of the beau monde who gets the hang of polishing silver, and a master of the house who’d like her to make his bed—preferably with him in it. Also passion unleashed with the mere touch of a finger. Readers are encouraged to swoon.
Scarred and haunted by memories of war, Rafe keeps away from society despite his title. He works with his hands by day and drinks himself to sleep to keep the nightmares away. He is dark, brooding, and intimidating yet just and gentle and compassionate.
To be honest, he was, to me, everything Minerva was not.
Not that Minerva was a horrible witch. She's known as the Ice Queen to her peers. Her demeanor and actions reflect it well. And I really didn't like her. Strength is one thing for an incredible female lead to have, especially in historical romances when women did not have the freedoms and rights contemporary women do. But arrogance and lack of compassion are not what I want to see in a female lead. I loved and was grateful for Minerva's strength, but I despised her highhandedness and haughtiness. She was, at the beginning, not the kind of woman I wanted Rafe to fall in love with.
Did she change, become softer, more understanding? Yes. The bargain struck with Rafe did that. The difference between the Minerva at the end was a far cry from the Minerva at the beginning. Her transformation was beautiful. It made her outward beauty a hundred times more stunning and made her worthy of the right to claim, hold, and protect Rafe's heart.
I didn't read the first book in this series. If you didn't and are wondering if you should, you won't need to. Who Rafe and Minerva are, how they came to be where they currently are in life are explained in depth in this book. That being said, this story has given me a reason to want to read the first one.
This was a challenging read for me. More than once I wanted to put it down and say, "F*** it" because Minerva grated my nerves until they were raw. I'm glad I muscled past those initial feelings and finished this story. It was definitely worth reading.
An award-winning author, Laura Trentham was born and raised in a small town in Tennessee. Although, she loved English and reading in high school, she was convinced an English degree equated to starvation. She chose the next most logical major—Chemical Engineering—and worked in a hard hat and steel toed boots for several years.
She writes sexy, small town contemporaries and smoking hot Regency historicals. The first two books of her Falcon Football series were named Top Picks by RT Book Reviews magazine. When not lost in a cozy Southern town or Regency England, she's shuttling kids to soccer, helping with homework, and avoiding the Mt. Everest-sized pile of laundry that is almost as large as the to-be-read pile of books on her nightstand.
Her latest book is the Regency historical romance, A Brazen Bargain.