Lady Be Reckless
by Megan Frampton
Series: The Duke’s Daughters
Genre: Adult Historical Romance
Publisher: Avon Books
Publication Date: February 27, 2018
The Duke’s five daughters have beauty, breeding, and impeccable reputations.
Or at least, they did.
Now that two have chosen to follow their hearts, can the others be far behind…?
Lady Olivia refuses to repeat her siblings’ scandalous mistakes. Instead, she will marry the lord rejected by her sister and help with his good works. When he resists, Olivia forms another plan: win his lordship’s admiration by helping his illegitimate best friend find a bride. How difficult can it be to transform the rakish Edward Wolcott into a gentleman? To ignore his virile good looks? To not kiss him in a moment of impulsive madness? Apparently, very difficult indeed.
Edward Wolcott promised his ailing father he would marry well. It’s a challenging task, but Lady Olivia will not be deterred. The sparkling firebrand intends to smooth his way through London’s ballrooms and parlors, while all Edward’s thoughts suddenly revolve around bedrooms…and Lady Olivia herself. Only a scoundrel would seduce the duke’s most dutiful daughter. And only a truly reckless lady would risk everything to be in his arms…
“. . . Bennett.”
His eyes widened at her use of his first name, and he blinked a few times. Overcome by his emotions, perhaps? She smiled reassuringly. “We feel the same way about so many things.” She put her hand on his sleeve. His gaze went to where her hand lay, and she wished she was daring enough to run the fingers of her other hand through his hair. She wasn’t, not yet. Perhaps later, after everything was settled.
“And since we are of much the same mind, I know that it only makes sense for us to get married. So we can finally be together.” She exhaled. “There. I’ve finally said it.” And she tilted her face up so he could kiss her.
And edged forward, since it seemed that he wasn’t going to. Perhaps he was unsure if a kiss would be welcome? She should let him know it would be perfectly welcome.
“You may kiss me, if you like. Since we are now betrothed.”
He still did not kiss her, and she felt a pang of regret. Instead, he closed his eyes and leaned his head back so that even if she wished to initiate a kiss, she couldn’t. He was too tall, and now his mouth was too far away from hers.
A slow uncomfortable feeling began to unravel inside her, and she felt her breath hitch.
“I am aware of the great honor you do me, Lady Olivia,” he said, his eyes still closed. Then he opened them, and she wanted to leap back at what she saw in his gaze. Was it possible he did not love her? “But I do not regard you in that way, and I think it best if we forget this conversation ever happened.”
Olivia froze for a moment as she absorbed the words. And then felt her face blaze as fiercely as any fire she’d ever encountered. “You do not regard me in that way?” she repeated, hearing the words fall out of her mouth even though she didn’t think she could speak. “You’re saying you are not in love with me?”
She snatched her hand off his sleeve and dropped it behind her back, her fingers wiggling in the air as though trying to find purchase. Because it felt as though she were falling off a very high cliff. “Not in love with me?” she said again, wishing he would step forward and take her in his arms and say it was all a mistake, he was testing her, but knowing it wouldn’t.
“Oh,” she said in a soft voice, looking anywhere but at him. “I’ve just thrown myself at you, and now it seems you don’t feel the same way.” Something caught her eye and she walked forward, past him, to snatch it up from the small table. It was a dome encasing a small yellow flower, one of those ornamental things everybody had as part of their everyday clutter.
This isn’t you, a voice said in her head. This isn’t who you are, or who you want to be.
But she couldn’t keep herself from curling her fingers around it, feeling the cool glass on her palm. Knowing she could throw it if she wanted to. Which she very much did. This, at least, she could do. She could control her actions now, even if she couldn’t control his. She’d just thrown herself at him? She could throw other things too.
She raised the dome over her head, all of her pent-up emotion channeling itself through her upraised arm, flinging it toward the opposite wall, not close enough to possibly hit him, but startling nonetheless.
The object shattered into pieces, the noise of the impact the only sound in the room. It wasn’t loud enough to cause anyone to notice, not with the band continuing to play in the ballroom as though hearts weren’t currently being broken.
“Olivia, you should consider,” he began, but she shook her head before he could get more words out.
“Get out.” She spoke in a low tone, because if she raised her voice she would scream, and she couldn’t cause that kind of scene, not as one of the duke’s daughters, who already had a penchant for causing trouble. Not to mention it would be horribly embarrassing. Yes, Lady Olivia was proposing to me, and I was rejecting her, and then she threw a decorative object at my head. If he said anything about it at all, which she knew as a gentleman he would not.
“Get out,” she repeated in a stronger voice this time.
Something in her expression must have told him not to press the issue, because he shook his head and walked past her and back out into the ballroom, closing the door behind him.
Leaving her alone with her thoughts and her humiliation.
She took a deep breath and withdrew her handkerchief from her pocket, preparing herself for an epic cry.
“Pardon me,” a deep voice said from the depths of the sofa opposite, “but I think it is probably best that I make my departure as well.”
Olivia’s mouth opened in shock as a man—a tall, perfectly dressed, and remarkably handsome man—emerged from behind the sofa, his hair disheveled. He offered her a sly grin and she felt all of her ire direct itself onto this stranger who’d had the effrontery to listen to her make a fool of herself.
“And who are you?” she replied haughtily, taking refuge in her bred-to-the-bone aristocratic manner.
He spread his arms and made a low bow. “I am Mr. Edward Wolcott, at your service,” he replied in an amused tone.
“Oh!” she said in recognition. “The bast—” She began, then put her hand to her open mouth.
His smile halted and the look in his eyes got fierce. “Yes, my lady. The bastard.”
Edward and Olivia were wonderful from start to finish here. Even when Olivia’s obliviousness was making me cringe (which it did. A lot.), so was so earnest and tried so hard it was impossible not to feel for her–as Edward soon found out. Their meet-not-quite-so-cute was very a la Rhett and Scarlett, though her single-minded determination and insistence that she always knew what was best for everyone are really all she had in common with that other heroine. (Oh…and a need for being in control. Hmmm. Maybe they’re more similar than I thought at first…) Fortunately, Olivia’s much less selfish, if not always less self-centered, and realizes important facts about herself before it’s too late, unlike the heroine of Gone with the Wind . Most importantly, Lady Be Reckless is an actual romance, so an HEA is coming at the end.
I loved that Edward refused to apologize for what he was (illegitimate) even while admitting certain truths to himself about his situation and standing. He is the perfect hero for Olivia–charmed by her bossiness, and even though he sees her flaws he loves her for them. Plus, his cat sleeps on his bed. How can you not love this guy?
Some of my favorite bits–besides every scene in which Edward and Olivia are together–are the blurbs at the beginning of the chapters. Initially they are from Lady Olivia’s Particular Guide to Decorum (sample: “If you believe something in right, you should do it. Even at the risk of being wrong. But you are never wrong.”) but soon the title shifts to Lady Olivia’s Particular Guide to Being Reckless (sample: “Oh my goodness, that was fun, I cannot wait to do it again.” I leave it to your imagination as to what she’s talking about…but yes, it’s that.)
How on earth did I miss the first book in this series? ( Lady Be Bad , Eleanor’s story, which I must. Read. Soon.) You’d better believe my eyes will be peeled for Ida’s story ( The Lady is Daring ), Pearl’s story, and (dare I hope?) Della’s story…
Rating: 4 1/2 stars / A
I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.
About Megan Frampton:
Megan Frampton writes historical romance under her own name and romantic women’s fiction under the name Megan Caldwell. She likes the color black, gin, dark-haired British men, and huge earrings, not in that order. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, with her husband and son.
Tour Wide Giveaway!
To celebrate the release of LADY BE RECKLESS, we’re giving away one paperback set of LADY BE BAD and LADY BE RECKLESS by Megan Frampton!
GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS: Open to US shipping addresses only. One winner will receive a paperback set of Lady Be Bad and Lady Be Reckless by Megan Frampton. This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of Avon Romance. Giveaway ends 3/9/2018 @ 11:59pm EST. Avon Romance will send the winning copies out to the winner directly. Limit one entry per reader and mailing address. Duplicates will be deleted. CLICK HERE TO ENTER!