A Perfect Plan (Wiltshire Chronicles Book 1)
Lord Benjamin Westwood never intended on following through with his rash promise to his best friend. Now, with Edward’s death, Benjamin becomes the unwilling guardian to Edward’s bratty little sister, who has grown up considerably since the last time they met. His intention to marry her off to the first available suitor is thwarted when he finds himself falling for Samantha’s unique demeanor. He lights upon the perfect plan; a marriage of convenience, giving him the opportunity to romance Samantha without distraction.
However, when they discover Edward’s disappearance was due to foul play, Benjamin’s perfect plan begins to quickly unravel. Now, Samantha is in more danger than either of them realized and Benjamin is running out of time.
Do you enjoy books by authors such as Jane Austen, Victoria Holt, Amanda Quick, Lisa Kleypas, and Johanna Lindsey? Then get ready to meet … Alyssa Drake!
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Best Book Bit:
“Really,” Benjamin murmured thoughtfully, his eyes flickered over the young men roving hungrily on the sidelines. “I do not think you know the first thing about men.”
“I do,” insisted Samantha. She stopped dancing to place her hands firmly on her hips. The childish pose brought a smile to Benjamin’s lips.
“Let me show you how much you do not know. Shall we retire to the terrace; it is such a lovely night?” Without waiting for a response, he grasped her wrist lightly and tugged her towards the open glass doors. Samantha followed reluctantly.
The balcony, bathed in light from the ballroom, provided shadowy corners for couples seeking a little more privacy. It was into one of these dim corners that Benjamin pulled Samantha, pushing her back against the ivy covered bricks. Both his hands rested on the greenery, sufficiently trapping Samantha between his body and the wall. He inhaled her scent, sweet like honeysuckle.
He moved closer, the heat from her body licked flames onto his skin. Their breath intermingled, caressing two pairs of lips before escaping into the star-spattered sky. His hips slid nearer, pressing into her with his unreleased desire. One finger tipped her chin until she was forced to stare into his eyes. The other hand moved behind her head, clasping her neck, just above the bodice.
“This,” he rumbled softly, their lips separated by mere centimeters, “is how a potential suitor might behave. Can you handle this?”
“Yes,” she answered defiantly, her voice wavering. She placed her hands on his chest, as if she were planning to shove him away. However she did not exert any pressure, nor did she move them; her hands remained splayed across his broad chest.
“And this?” He inched closer, his lips brushing her in the barest of kisses.
“Yes,” Samantha managed to squeak out.
Benjamin kissed her again; lightly at first and then with increasing urgency. He deepened the kiss, his body pressed against the full length of her. His hands wrapped around her waist, pulling her against him. Unconsciously they tightened their carnal hold. His lips nibbled the corners of her mouth. Urgently his tongue pushed past her lips, tasting her sweet breath.
“Mmmm,” her protest died under his assault. Attempting to mirror his actions, she kissed him back, not as forcefully, but with the same passion and intensity he felt. He wanted more of her. He wanted to take her right here, on the balcony, in full view of every guest in attendance. He needed to claim her as his, forever.
Edward’s disappointed face swam into his mind. Reason washed over him; dousing him in an icy bath. Reluctantly he pulled away, acutely aware of another couple entering the terrace. This was not the circumstances Edward had in mind when he appointed Benjamin to act as Samantha’s guardian. Although, Edward taught her some questionable things as well, Benjamin thought wryly, his finger brushed over the scar on his left hand again. He was certain this particular lesson was not on Edward’s approved curriculum.
Samantha looked faint; the fire behind her eyes dying like embers. Suddenly conscious of their ill-concealed location, she glanced around ashamed. She quickly lowered her hands, fussing over her dress and smoothing invisible wrinkles nervously. Benjamin blocked her body from meddling eyes, to allow her a few extra moments of privacy.
“That,” he said languidly, trying to slow his own breathing, “is how a possible suitor would act.”
“That,” she replied haughtily, “is how a cad would act.”
Good manners were important in Victorian society. Both men and women had to abide by a rigid set of rules, which governed almost everything. One of the major events in upper class society was the dance.
The author, Alyssa Drake, gives us an exciting glimpse into Victorian life through her realistic and well-drawn characters and lovely descriptions. We are treated to memorable scenes at upper class estates as the season of debutantes and dances begins.
While most of the young ladies are eager to attract a handsome and wealthy husband, Miss Samantha Hastings, the main character, is happy to be on her own.
She was a handful, stubborn, opinionated, deliberately trying to drive him insane.
She never planned on marriage, much to the dismay of her sister-in-law Wilhelmina. “I will not allow you to sink into spinsterhood.”
When we first meet Samantha, or Sam, she is living a quiet country life with her sister-in-law and her nieces. The author treats us to witty dialogue and repartee and portraits of the manners and mores of the time, which makes for an enjoyable read.
But there is more than happy frolicking. There is murder, and potential massacre. There is also romance as Lord Benjamin Westwood, her guardian, finds that little Sam has grown up into quite a captivating creature. He knew that one day she would learn to love him.
Her skin called to him, an intoxication begging for fulfillment. “Miss Hastings…are you asking me to seduce you?”
In this first book in the series, Author Drake gives us a well-crafted mystery, heart-pounding romance* and delightful characters. The ending of this book is somewhat of a cliff-hanger. Readers, you will be charmed by this well-written historical fiction. On to book two!
*I noted in other reviews that some readers felt that the romance was too explicit. I found that the love scenes were on the frisky side, but tasteful and they held my interest! But for those who don’t want to read descriptions of a man’s physical response, this is your warning.
My favorite character was Samantha. Loved her rebellion.
I did enjoy the book.
It opens with a prologue from 1842 and the ruthless murder of Lord Matthew Hastings by an unknown gentleman.
Chapter one begins almost eleven years later. Samantha Hastings is currently residing in the town house of her sister-in-law Wilhelmina, who has been widowed. She asked Sam to come and help her with running the finances of her late husbands house and business. An unusual responsibility for a women of this era, Samantha is not one to conform to society. In fact an invite to Lady Allendale's ball has her shuddering.
Wilhelmina insists that Sam accompanies her to parties and such, as her chaperone, whilst she is also on the look out for a suitable husband for Sam. At the ball Sam is reacquainted with her brother's friends, one of whom promised to be her guardian. A task he feels duty bound to uphold, but Benjamin is not thrilled with having to vet future husbands for his friend's sister. A young chit of a girl he remembers, who no doubt has grown into a plain Jane.
What Benjamin hasn't considered is that the beauty on the dance floor who has captured his attention is the one and the same younger sister of best friend Edward.
The storyline follows with a pleasant romantic tale fitting with the genre, a couple of times there were unbelievable leaps in action however the mystery adds a good twist. A man thought dead returns to life, but shadows follow him closely and put the Hastings family in grave danger.
For those who enjoy a regency romance complete with happy ever after ending, be warned, this book ends of a cliff hanger, ready for book #2 to continue the tale.