Publisher: Zebra (September 1, 2008)
Maybelle promises to be the headmistress of the School of Gallantry for two months, no more, no less, before she takes the trip to Egypt. Upon introducing herself to the 5 men in her class she finds out that Lord Rutherford, the man she met at the ball and in the garden, is also one of her students.
Temptation has never been so irresistible.
Mistress Of Pleasure is Regency with a twist. An utterly seductive and wicked twist. While the formula of this story is encountered in many Regency novels Delilah Marvelle makes it her own with various elements. One of them is the School of Gallantry, teaching men the art of seduction gives this story a mischievous nature. Then there are the five men, upon meeting them I instantly was triggered to delve into their past. Each has a reason to be there and of course the tidbits of information was nearly not enough to satisfy my curiosity. And last but not least Maybelle and her grandmother, they both add such a distinctive voice to this story that it was a joy getting to know them.
Maybelle is a woman who wants to go places, reads work of authors like Voltaire but has to deal with the wisdom gathered by her grandmother in her years as a courtesan. Two very different women and still in the core they are very much alike, they both want the freedom to do what they want, regardless of what the Ton says or does. When Maybelle meets the Duke of Rutherford it is instant attraction and they both want to act upon it.
The Duke of Rutherford, Edmund, is ruled by one act of his father and there for can’t seem to find a suitable woman to become his wife. He is from the Ton but doesn’t seem to be a part of the Ton. He hides his true nature with an “I-don’t-care-what-anyone-thinks” attitude combined with a natural arrogance which gives him the freedom to do many a wicked thing.
This is something I enjoyed very much in Mistress of Pleasure, the almost carnal freedom in writing that isn’t explicit in any way but remains to be an ever present simmer throughout the pages, waiting to be ignited full force. The chemistry between Maybelle and Edmund is accentuated on the sensuous side but never forgetting that at the core it is the heart that needs to open up, the heart that needs to find love and the heart that needs the emotion reciprocated. Combine it with a humor that is evident through the lessons and various characters and Mistress To Pleasure became a read where the pages were easily consumed.
Next to the tangible chemistry of Edmund and Maybelle I got to know 4 other – equally intriguing – men. Lord Caldwell, Brayton, Hawksford and Banfield, the inevitable group of Lords that paint a picture of true male variations in looks and character. While this is something that is regular Regency novel 101I feel that also in this, Delilah Marvelle did an remarkably good job. Each Lord is different, delectable and has issues of his own. Each has a story to tell, each is there with a reason and I just wanted to know more then what the author gave me. If I have to say out of the group that vary from the flirtatious type to the brooding silent type it is Lord Brayton that captured my heart from the moment he introduced himself. I’ve got a weak spot for the brooding, silent type and my female inquisitive side itched to know more about him.
The plot speaks of human issues, trust, betrayal, acceptance of oneself and aim to do exactly that in life which you want to do. With the vibrant and colurful personalities it becomes interesting to see how, where and when things unfold themselves and keeping me bound to the pages. I feel that all the pieces of this story smoothly fit together, allowing the reader to be a part of this tale with very little effort.
All in all I believe Mistress To Pleasure is a debut that radiates with humor, passion and a cast of characters that makes you want to return to the wicked delights of the School of Gallantry.