Just a really fun read–whether you’ve read the rest of the series or not!
Mad About the Major
Bachelor Chronicles #8.5
By: Elizabeth Boyle
Releasing June 2, 2015
The pampered daughter of a duke . . .
Lady Arabella Tremont has spent her entire life protected and overshadowed by her restrictive father. But she is a Tremont, after all, and the morning after she is nearly ruined at a ball by a handsome stranger, Arabella’s father demands she make an arranged match with an heir to a dukedom. In desperation, Arabella takes matters into her own hands.
Takes a London holiday with the most unsuitable of chaperones . . .
Major Kingsley is in London to avoid to his parents’ dreadful house party. To his surprise he runs into the enticing – and unforgettable — minx he met at a ball the previous night. Arabella, or Birdie, as he knows her, insists he owes her three favors-for he’s put her in a terrible pinch; Kingsley agrees, if only to delay his trip home and because the notion of spending the day with this enchanting bit of muslin is too tempting to resist. But all too quickly he discovers Arabella’s requests are hardly what he expected…
“And unscathed, I see,” Roscoe said, glancing sideways at him. “Thought I heard you got shot in that last brush with Boney.”
“A scratch or two, nothing of note,” Kingsley told him.
“Good news, that. Means you are in fine form for a bit of a wager.”
“A wager?” Suddenly Augie’s interest came back to life.
Roscoe leaned in. “Mrs. Spenser is here.”
“Mrs. Spenser?” Augie shook his head again. Rather like a wet dog, but Kingsley was too well-mannered to point that out. “You’re bamming us, Roscoe. Won’t fall for any of your capers.” He huffed, tucked up his nose, and crossed his arms over his chest, as if to ward off whatever mischief the man proposed.
“No, indeed it is true,” Roscoe shot back, all affronted. “Apparently the duke and duchess attended her ball last month. In disguise of course.”
“Of course,” Augie agreed, for apparently that was old news.
“Yes, well, Mrs. Spenser is here and I have it on good authority that the fellow who unmasks her before midnight gets to uncover the rest of her, if you know what I mean.” He nudged Kingsley as if helping him along.
“Yes, yes, I know what you mean. I’ve been on the Continent, not in a convent,” Kingsley told him.
“And have you heard of the lady? Mrs. Spenser?” Roscoe pressed.
“Yes. I’ve heard of this nonpareil.” Kingsley hadn’t been in London a day before the tales of Mrs. Spenser and her beauty (along with her lascivious practices) had reached his ears. Exactly the sort of woman he’d come here searching for—the sort he could lose himself with for a night or so … before he must absolutely make his way to his mother’s house party.
And all that it entailed. Proposed. Demanded.
Roscoe rocked on his boot heels. “I know which lady she is.”
“Stuff and nonsense,” Augie shot back. “If you know who she is, why haven’t you gone and claimed her for yourself?”
“Was going to do just that, then I saw our good friend here.” He nodded at Kingsley. “Home from the war, I said to myself. Served his King and country with heroism—if the newspapers are to be believed. Be rather selfish of me not to offer her up to our own Major Kingsley, a thank-you as it were.”
Kingsley laughed in skeptical agreement. “Roscoe, I’ve never known you to share anything, least of all a willing woman. Were you, perhaps, hit by a mail coach while I was away?”
“Nothing of the sort,” Roscoe replied, once again in a pique over having his intentions questioned. “I thought you might like the opportunity, especially when the word all over Town is that your mother has your bride and nursery at the ready.”
Kingsley flinched. Gads, he’d hoped that part of his life wasn’t being bandied about, but here was Augie, looking away and whistling, and Roscoe grinning confidently over the news.
Yes, it was all over Town.
“Not interested,” he told his old friend, for certainly there was some hitch in all this.
It was Roscoe doing the offering after all.
“Now, now, now. Wait until you behold the lady before you refuse this choice opportunity,” Roscoe said, catching him by the arm and turning him toward the open garden doors. “See the milkmaid there, lingering as if she hadn’t a single concern about her flock or her virtue?”
Against his better judgment, Kingsley looked.
He should never have done so.
Even Augie gasped, for indeed, the lady near the doors was the loveliest creature Kingsley had beheld in a very long time. Long hair fell in curls all the way down her back. Her gown, rather than the usual fluff and frills of some noble version of a milkmaid, was instead simple and classical, a soft sheath of muslin tied at her waist with a single silken cord.
A plain white mask covered the upper half of her face, but beneath it were a pair of pink, full lips that right now she was nibbling with her teeth.
Kingsley blinked even as his body tightened. Yes, this was exactly what he’d had in mind to discover.
More to the point, however had he missed her before this?
She was Sheba with a shepherdess’s crook.
Demmit, what man wouldn’t want her?
“What is the wager?” Kingsley said, taking a step toward her.
“A monkey,” Roscoe told him. “And of course, the pleasure of her company.”
“Kingsley, I wouldn’t—” Augie began, but was quickly overshadowed by Roscoe, who had clapped his hand over Augie’s mouth and shoved Augie behind him.
“Should I put your name down?” Roscoe asked, all innocence.
“Ah,” Kingsley said with a grin. “Why not.”
“Kingsley—no—” Augie struggled to get free, but it was too late, for the major was already striding confidently off through the press of guests.
Roscoe waited until their friend was well out of earshot, then began to laugh. Uproariously.
“Badly done,” Augie scolded, coming round him and watching in dismay as Kingsley made his approach. “Do you know who that lady really is?”
“Of course I do,” Roscoe said with glee.
“He’ll call you out when he discovers what you’ve done,” Augie pointed out. “Years of practice aiming at those wily Frogs … you’ll make an easy target in comparison.”
“Hadn’t thought of that,” Roscoe admitted, making a noncommittal shrug, but nonetheless taking an uneasy glance at Kingsley.
“You never do, Roscoe,” Augie replied. “You never do.”
Though it relies heavily on a few pretty big coincidences, I really just enjoyed the heck out of this fairly short and sweet novel. I was about 2/3 of the way through when I had to take a quick break and pick up copies of two of the other books in the series–Birdie’s dad’s story ( Mad about the Duke ) and her Uncle Jack’s (This Rake of Mine )–and the two of them weren’t even in the story all that much! I really liked Ms. Doyle’s writing style, though, and what we did see of them was just tempting enough that I’ve got to learn their stories too. 🙂
Birdie and Major Kingsley’s London adventure is set in motion by a wager–while at a masquerade ball, Kingsley is lead to believe that Birdie’s a well-known courtesan and takes some outrageous liberties. Perhaps the most outrageous part, though, is that Birdie doesn’t quite react the way a proper female should.
Oh, heaven help her! Whatever was he doing with his tongue?
Truly, he should cease such improprieties immediately.
Or very soon.
In spite of the fact that he gets a black eye for his impertinence–courtesy of her father the duke, though neither gentleman gets a sufficient look at the other–Kingsley can’t stop thinking of her. And the feeling’s mutual.
So when they run (literally, in Birdie’s case) into each other again a few days later, it doesn’t take a whole heck of a lot to convince him that he’s got to be the one to rescue her from herself. Because Birdie won’t last five minutes on her own in London, as she ably shows right away…
And the rest is history. Nothing too shocking or surprising here–really, you can see the big reveal coming from about five miles away–but just a terribly fun way to spend a rainy morning. Or afternoon. Or evening. All while dreaming of your own London adventure…
Rating: 4 stars / A-
I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.
Elizabeth Boyle was an antipiracy paralegal for Microsoft before settling down to write full-time. Her first novel, Brazen Angel, which won Dell’s Diamond Debut Award in 1996, also won the Romance Writers of America’s RITA Award for Best First Book, and was a finalist for Best Long Historical Romance. She lives with her husband in Seattle, Washington. She is also the author of Brazen Heiress.