We have the Viscount Benedick Rohan, a man who lost two wives to childbirth complications, venture to London to find a, oh, so proper wife he can wed, bed, impregnate for the oh, so important heir and spare (if I had a sibling you best be knowing I'd refer to them as the spare), and then abandon/ignore to run off merrily with some mistress.
He arrives home to find his baby brother a shell of a man, due to his injuries he received from fighting in the Afgan Wars, addicted to opium, and doing secretly naughty things as a member of, those oh, so scandalously bored aristocrat's group, The Heavenly Host.
This prompts him to order in his evening's entertainment (totally understand, I check the pizza delivery box way more than the pickup one) who arrives eager to please, but oh, wait! The evening's entertainment comes along with a side of avenging angel!
Thus, we meet Lady Melisande Carstairs. A widow who now devotes her time to sheltering and helping fallen women rehab and transition to what are deemed more respectable lines of work. Melisande is a tough cookie, take no shit, butt kicking, never been french kissed, never been fully undressed for sexual congress...er, what? Yes, our heroine, is of course, while having had partook, is vastly inexperienced and naive about bed sport. Guess, who is going to enlighten her....
While Ms. Stuart's quality writing is present, Benedick is not her average hero. He lacks the heaping amounts of darkness that his predecessors had. This might make him more appealing to the masses. Melisande, while more of a believable, in her actions and thoughts, character, never really distinguishes herself from the many, many, many plucky/innocent regency misses. Where they shine is in Ms. Stuart's ability to construct caustic, witty, and push/pull sexual tension banter. This was my favorite aspect of the book.
The main story thread of Benedick and Melisande investigating the Heavenly Host, he to try to save his brother and her to try to save the women forced to participate, was slow and meh for me. It's the reason our characters are thrown together but like I said, the dialogue is where this book excels.
This started off strong and really sagged towards the middle and end. Yes, yes, I get it, you're afraid she'll die in childbirth and you're afraid he'll suck in bed and not really love you. Stuff it and just give me more banter!
All in all a decent regency read but probably just for the OCD people who want to finish up the series.
*Scorpion and Miranda make an appearance in this :) They are from book 3 "Breathless" which was my favorite from the series but should be warned Scorpion was one hell of a DARK character.
**Also, we get a smattering of tidbits about the sidecouple (Benedick's brother and Melisande's bf) in this book and whoa doggy do I want to read their story.