Happily Bedded Bliss by Tracy Anne Warren is a fun historical romance that features a strong heroine and rakish hero with a good dose of drama and steamy scenes.
[Some Spoilers; Mature Audiences]
Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
This is the second book in The Rakes of Cavendish Square series, but there are five books before that in a series called The Byrons of Braebourne. Needless to say, I was confused beyond measure at first as I tried to match up everyone with who their significant other was. Then I went to Goodreads, looked up the other books, and BAM, problem solved.
This book follows Esme Byron the strong-willed, but spoiled, sister of a Duke. She loves animals and she loves to draw. She’s a very accomplished artist, and one day, she slips out of her family’s home to do some sketching while everyone else is busy entertaining guests.
One this visit, she catches a man swimming and then falling asleep on the grass. The scandalous thing is…he’s naked.
Esme weighs her options then does the only thing she can do; she draws him!
After a house full of guests sees the illicit drawing, she ends up engaged to Gabriel, Lord Northcote. All of this is to salvage her reputation, which is in tatters thanks to her detailed drawing of on of the biggest rakes around.
Weddings of this kind of circumstance are never easy, though.
There were a lot of things that I liked about this novel. I thought the beginning was very fun and lighthearted. It seemed a little far-fetched that a singular drawing would get Esme tied to someone as notorious as Northcote, especially since her family has “weathered storms before”, but I was fine with how it all happened.
When their time together begins, Northcote is funny. He’s got a bit of a wild streak, but he genuinely likes Esme. He’s kind to her, and she’s just as receptive to him. They get along quite well.
Her brothers are a tad bit overbearing and always seem to be threatening Northcote at nearly every turn, but I can understand the need to protect their little sister. If I were Gabriel, I would have lost my temper more than once with them.
After they’re married for awhile, Gabriel changes. He becomes very indifferent to Esme after their honeymoon at this favorite home on the coast. The weeks they spend there are happy and full of love and steamy scenes. It’s just lovely to watch. Then Gabriel turns cold and distant. He doesn’t want to be in love with her so much. He pushes her away.
They end up going to his family’s estate in the country, Ten Elms, and he returns to London without her after only a single night there.
I loved the change in Esme. She is spoiled at the beginning, but I get it. She was the younger sister of a Duke. They let her do as she pleased, but Esme wasn’t wild. She loved her animals and her art, but she never did anything crazy.
After Northcote leaves, she has to find out who she really is.
Esme decides that instead of running back to her family’s home in Braebourne that she’ll stay at Ten Elms and help restore the house. It’s in dire need of an updating, and Gabriel told her to spend whatever she liked to fix it up, so that’s just what she does. Along the way, she finds out that Gabriel’s uncle still has the old servants in his pocket, so he knows everything that is going on. He even pays Esme a visit and tells her some terribly tragic things about Gabriel’s past and the circumstances of his birth.
Esme pulls herself together, kicks him out of the house and then fires the servants she knows are the ones that are supplying the ammunition to Gabriel’s uncle. Once she’s settled after that incident, she decides that she’s going to London to retrieve her husband.
The entire time Gabriel is in London, he’s wishing he was back with Esme. He doesn’t want to get attached to her, though.
Love was weakness and he would drive its nascent tendrils from his soul before it had a chance to dig in and take root.
Gabriel has a lot of trust issues with women, and he lets those cloud his judgment so much.
When Esme does come to him, though, she turns the tables. She’s the one who dismisses him from her bed and maintains a distance. They eventually reconcile and move forward as they did before Gabriel changed after their wedding.
Gabriel can still be a complete ass at times. He loves Esme, but due to his mother’s infidelities, he is wary of women and gets extremely jealous on occasion. One time, toward the end of the book, he made me furious. I really wanted Esme to slap him for his accusations, especially considering his past with women.
All-in-all, this book was a decent read. There is a solid story and dynamic characters, especially Esme. I really loved to watch the woman she became throughout the story.
This one is available today! Happy Book Birthday, Ms. Warren!
Thank you to the publisher for providing an advanced copy!