I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Marisa has been anxiously awaiting a proposal from Lord Rutherford but when Maitland, the Duke of Lyttleton her brother's friend, finds him in the garden with another woman, he decides to make his move. Maitland has had his eye on Marisa for a while and when they find themselves in a compromised situation, he finds himself getting what he wants, married to Marisa. "The Cold Duke" is now her husband and Marisa is feeling a little off kilter but when they discover their hot chemistry, she can't wait to explore the benefits of marriage more. However, with a husband determined to keep a certain amount of physical distance and a mystery person out for revenge, Marisa and Maitland have the odds stacked against them and their happily ever after may take some redefining.
A Whisper of Desire is book four in the Disgraced Lords series, I didn't read the previous and would say you could get away with it also, but there were definitely times that I felt lost and felt myself barely hanging on for the ride. The first chapter is jammed pack with somewhat hurried explanations to what has already happened in the series; past characters make appearances but what really seems to connect the books is a revenge storyline. The group of friends, the Disgraced Lords, have a mysterious person trying to wreak havoc and revenge on their lives but they can't figure out who or why; this edition gives us somewhat of a name, Fleur de Lily, but no one can associate that name with anyone or anything.
Marisa started off as a somewhat vague character as her only purpose seemed to be our hero needing a wife for the romance aspect but gained substance as the story went on. She was the one who pushed the sexual side of the relationship as her sensual nature (and very, very modern bent, our Lady doesn't pause in using the word bitch at one time) comes to the forefront. Later on in the story she dabbles over into martyr territory with her sudden desire to save all the orphan children of the world. Maitland arrived with some heavy backstory, his father died of syphilis which was greatly earned; his father's depraved acts are teased and reiterated here and there. Maitland is of the mind that blood tells, so he likes to keep a strong leash on himself, which includes only sleeping with his wife a certain amount of times during the week. With Marisa's stronger sensual side, you can see what conflict hits their relationship.
Through her brother, Maitland and Marisa were aware of each other but their marriage is where they get to know one another. They poke and prod each other a bit as Marisa feels Maitland isn't attracted to her and Maitland tries to keep a clamp on what he feels are his baser needs and indulged, could have him turning out like his father. This all occurs as the mysterious revenge storyline circles around mainly bringing in Arend, Maitland's friend and another Disgraced Lord. Maitland's stepmother was another more central secondary character; she started off adding another dimension to the story only to end up overcrowding it with a fantastical and needless arc. Honestly, the first 30% of this story accomplished or had more in it than most whole books include. This aspect in turns made the story wild, crazy, fun, hard to manage, and fast paced.
Starting in the middle of the series with book four definitely hurt me, the hero's desire for marriage felt too immediate, I couldn't help feeling I maybe missed our couple's beginning relationship steps in previous books; their attraction felt immediate, however, the bonding work was done in this story. The revenge plot was a big part of the story but felt all a little mystifying to me as I didn't have prior background knowledge beyond the hurried explanations in the beginning and basically, no answers were given here. I am incredibly interested in Arend and Isobel's (somewhat of a friend of Marisa's) story as Arend was deliciously broodingly darkly dangerous and had biting chemistry with Isobel (their book looks to be one away yet).
I had never read a book by this author before but I admired her desire and ability to add a ton of ingredients into the pot and her courage in writing a “struggling” happily ever after. I don’t include spoilers in my reviews but when Maitland and Marisa ride off into the sunset, just know they are leaving a storm behind and venturing into a night most written romantic couples never see. This book was fast paced, jammed pack with story (sometimes overly), and more naughty than your average regency romance read. The sexual scenes were dirty and liked to make appearances, be aware too, that there is open talk of voyeurism, M/M, and M/M/F. A Whisper of Desire had a more modern bent but for readers looking for spicier historical fare, this was entertaining.