Series & Title: The Penningtons, Book 2: A Man Without a Mistress
Author: Bliss Bennet
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Release Date: December 15, 2015
Genre: Historical, Romance
ARC Received From & Reviewed For: Bliss Bennet
A man determined to atone for the past
For seven long years, Sir Peregrine Sayre has tried to assuage his guilt over the horrifying events of his twenty-first birthday by immersing himself in political work—and by avoiding all entanglements with ladies of the ton. But when his mentor sends him on a quest to track down purportedly penitent prostitutes, the events of his less-than-innocent past threaten not only his own political career . . .
A woman who will risk anything for the future
Raised to be a political wife, but denied the opportunity by her father’s untimely death, Sibilla Pennington has little desire to wed. To delay her brothers’ plans to marry her off as soon as her period of mourning is over, Sibilla vows only to accept a man as politically astute as was her father—and, in retaliation for her brothers’ amorous peccadillos, only one who has never kept a mistress. Surely there can be no such man in all of London.
When Sibilla’s attempt to free a reformed maidservant from the clutches of a former procurer throw her into the midst of Per’s penitent search, she is inextricably drawn to the cool, reserved baronet. But as the search grows ever more dangerous, Sibilla’s penchant for taking risks cannot help but remind Per of the shames he’s spent years trying to outrun. Can Per continue to hide from the guilt and ghosts of his past without endangering his chance at a passionate future with Sibilla?
Sibilla is...unique. Not because of her forwardness given the time period of this story--women did not get involved in politics, nor did they openly discuss politics because, well, they're women--but because of her unusual requirement for a husband. I mean, what man worth his weight in gold during this period didn't have a mistress? Her requirement was brilliant, and the hope that it would buy her more time to put off marriage was worth making it, I think.
Sibilla took front and center in this story for me, and Sayre was a wonderful compliment to her. He mistook her for a damsel in distress and quickly learned she was anything but. Their debates and discussions about politics might have raised a few eyebrows and caused some to whisper about her unladylike behavior, but Sayre didn't try to change her.
That was breathtaking, more so than Sibilla remaining true to herself up to "The End".
Sayre's past is not to be forgotten amidst the love and discovery happening. It was never far from the lighthearted moments; he carried his guilt well while ghosts from his past nipped hungrily at his heels. Respite came when he spent time with Sibilla, even if he sees himself in her penchant for taking risks. And that time with her produced feelings he hadn't dared encourage in a long time, urged him to reach for something that could be life-changing.
This was an easier read than A Rogue Without a Rebel, though I'm not sure why. The abundance of history and description hasn't lessened from Book 1 to Book 2, but there is something here that wasn't as prevalent in Book 1. Commonality? Attraction? Romance? I'm not sure, but I hope to experience more of it in this series. This is, dare I say, the better of the two books so far. So how exactly does an author top a story like this?
I'm not sure but I hope to find out.
Bliss Bennet writes smart, edgy novels for readers who love history as much as they love romance. Despite being born and bred in New England, Bliss finds herself fascinated by the history of that country across the pond, particular the politically volatile period known as the English Regency. Though she's visited England several times, Bliss continues to make her home in New England, along with her husband, daughter, and two monstrously fluffy black cats.