After reading some very blatantly erotic contemporary romances, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from this historical one. The premise had interested me when the ladies on Dear Bitches, Smart Authors discussed it, even though it didn’t really push any of my trope buttons.
A widow desperate to keep her estate from her brother-in-law schemes to produce an heir by propositioning her neighbor to assist her in her mission. For the full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.
The Good Stuff
The romance in this book was such a slow burn, but it was so worth it.
Martha is as proper as they come when it comes to men, but she also has the best of intentions for those who live in her area, wanting to start a school for the poorer children who leave there. She also wants to keep her house staff from being victimized by her brother-in-law, who is well known for having ruined two young women years before.
Theo, the man she propositions to have sex with her once a day in hopes of conceiving and passing off the child as her late husband’s heir, comes from the city and has no sense of responsibility, yet when he’s faced with the problems in the small country area he’s been shipped to by his father, he starts to mature and realize there’s more to life than going through life in a lazy way.
What I loved is that these two characters had their own stories that just happened to intertwine with each other. Their relationship developed slowly, going from a business arrangement, to a friendship, to love. And while their relationship is changing, so are their outlooks on life and how they look at themselves.
Things That Made Me Go Hmmm
I was not prepared for how uncomfortable Martha and Theo’s first encounters would be to read. Martha is stoic, taking no pleasure in the act, as for her it’s only a business arrangement. Theo is able to take only the pleasure in the physical release, but he struggles at first, having a hard time working with a partner who is so unwilling.
This wasn’t rape, as it was purely consensual, but it made me sad that Martha didn’t feel she could enjoy sex under any circumstances, and her stubbornness was hard to take at times. Though she accommodated Theo when he asked her to do something to help the process, she had this wall that she just wouldn’t let him penetrate (no pun intended).
The Romance Factor
There was little romance at the beginning of the book, and I spent a good amount of time just waiting for it to happen. When it did, it was amazing. The moment Martha lets herself feel something for Theo was sensual and exciting and it changed the whole tone of the book. From there, it just got better and it pushed all my buttons. The fact that their agreement was only for 30 days led to the angst and sadness of two people who have different priorities and can’t seem to figure out how to be together. 5/5.
The Steam Factor
Like the romance, the sexiness was non-existent through the first half of the book. Once the characters broke that barrier, though, the heat and sensuality shot up about ten levels. It wasn’t as descriptive or graphic as other novels I’ve read, but it was definitely hot, and the way Theo talks to Martha is highly erotic. 4/5
Despite the discomfort at the beginning, this book was good. There were times I wanted to cry for both characters. I also liked the connections the author made between other characters in the story and how she connected the past with the present. This was very well written and an example of a non-traditional romance that was still an amazing read.