Genre: Historical Romance (Georgian)
Uncovered: a list of noblemen’s names—each one guilty of treason
To save his family legacy, Rafe Densmore must seize a courtesan’s infamous register. No one can ever know how his father betrayed his country! One person stands in Rafe’s way—the beautiful Cornelia, Comtesse de Vane.
In the card rooms of Paris, Rafe and Cornelia made an unbeatable… intimate team. Until, convinced of Rafe’s desertion, desperate Cornelia married an elderly comte. Now, returning to London an impoverished widow, she’ll do anything to possess the register.
Even if that means becoming Rafe’s partner once again…
I had not read any of Georgie Lee’s books but, when she was featured on fellow author, Ella Quinn’s blog recently, I was intrigued by the premise of her latest book, The Courtesan’s Book of Secrets and added it to my list of books I definitely wanted to read. So I was delighted when Ms Lee asked if I would like to read and review the book and it certainly didn’t disappoint.
This was such a compelling story and I felt a real empathy for Rafe and Cornelia. During their years together, it was obvious that they had fallen in love, although they never admitted it to each other. Cornelia believed that to Rafe she was nothing more than his gambling partner and someone to warm his bed. Rafe felt he had nothing to offer Cornelia other than a future of unpredictable card games and rundown lodgings. The anger and bitterness over their perceived betrayal of each other is so evident in their stinging exchanges when they meet at Lady Daltmouth’s ball, but they cannot deny the feelings they still arouse in each other. I love how, despite everything that has happened, Rafe is still kind and protective towards Cornelia.
They both needed to find the book to protect those they love. When Rafe discovered that his father was a traitor, selling secrets to the French, he knows that, unless he can locate the book and destroy the evidence, all his lands will be seized. He loves his mother too much to see her reduced to poverty and degradation. How could I not adore a hero who cares so much for his mother? Cornelia is willing to do anything to protect her half-brother Andrew, even resort to blackmail.
I like how Rafe’s small acts of kindness to Miss Allen and her son and to Monsieur Fournier have greater significance later in the story.
The romance is poignant, tender and passionate and Ms Lee conveys all the emotions between Rafe and Cornelia quite beautifully and I’m sharing two of my favourite moments:
She laid her cheek on his chest, her fingers clutching his lapel. He slid his fingers beneath hers and they released the wool to curl over his. He could feel the trust in her grip, asking, begging for him to help her brother the way she’d begged him to help them flee France. Only this time she wouldn’t run off the moment he left. She’d stand by him and he’d prove his trustworthiness
He studied the top of her head, her dark hair shining in the bright moonlight. He’d be lying if he said he didn’t want this peace with her every night. Dropping a small kiss on her forehead, he inhaled the faint traces of lemon, the scent as sharp as the nasty way Fate kept tempting him with what he couldn’t have.
At times, it seems there are too many obstacles for Rafe and Cornelia to overcome but Ms Lee resolves the issues in a believable way.
I liked Rafe’s mother, Lady Densmore, so kind and understanding. Even in her own reduced circumstances, she still cares about the people on the estate. There are a variety of other secondary characters who contribute to the action and drama…the ageing coquette, Lady Daltmouth; the jowled, bespectacled solicitor, Mr Nettles; the menacing Lord Edgemont; the garlic-breathed, moneylender Mr Smith (a nasty piece of work).
I enjoyed Ms Lee’s writing with its evocative and emotive quality and her skilled use of words.
The cotton flowed over the curve of her knees to sweep the tops of her calfskin boots. A light, short-sleeved spencer sat snug against her round breasts, the plum-coloured material nipping in just beneath their fullness and teasing him as much as if the flesh were uncovered.
Porcelain counters clinked together, punctuated by the soft whir of shuffling cards and the rumble of conversation.
Rafe needled, expecting a thimble of sarcasm from her, not a pitcher full of anger.
‘I can’t lose him, Rafe. He’s the only person who loves me. The only person I’ve ever loved.’
He tossed the ring on the table, then cupped her face in his hands, brushing away the tears with his thumbs. As much as the words stung, he understood. He’d gone to great lengths to protect his mother and would go to many more if it meant
keeping her safe. ‘Don’t worry. We’ll find a way to get the money.’
A passionate and sensual love story, memorable characters, a compelling plot and great writing make THE COURTESAN’S BOOK OF SECRETS a highly recommended read. I certainly want to read more of Georgie Lee’s books.
REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS
SENSUALITY RATING: HOT
Read September 2014
My sincere thanks to Georgie Lee who provided me with a copy of this book in return for an honest review.