Read with: Kindle Paperwhite
Genre: Historical Romance
Publisher: Impeccably Demure Press
Hero: Christopher St. James Constant
Heroine: Miss Bryony Marton
Date of Publication: August 14, 2020
Started On: August 20, 2020
Finished On: September 04, 2020
If you are fan of Anne Stuart like myself, and have in all probability read most of her published books you can get your hands on, you would probably jump at the very possibility of a new book being published by a veritable master of the genre. There are very few books by Ms. Stuart that has not satisfied me on all counts, and even then, her stories tend to have that edge and quality to them that makes them memorable. Ms. Stuart is also the maestro when it comes to writing anti-heroes; her ICE series (contemporary) and The House of Rohan series (historical) are testament to this fact.
Published in August of last year, The Absolutely Positively Worst Man in England, Scotland and Wales (quite a mouthful, I know), was therefore much awaited to say the least. I had been regularly following up on Ms. Stuart’s blog to see when this baby would be published, and of course once it was, I was so excited that I couldn’t wait to dig in, even with work deadlines looming.
Christopher St. James Constant, third Earl of Adderley (Kit) is a man bored out of his mind, willing to be amused by pretty much anything. The news that his “friend” Sir George Latherby is about to get married rouses him of the boredom and lack of interest in life that plagues him, and so cooking up a nefarious plan to kidnap the betrothed to hasten the nuptials among other things, thus Adderly finds himself in the company of 25 year old Honorable Miss Bryony Marton.
Bryony wants nothing to do with her betrothed or any man for that matter. On the plain side, with scandal having eroded any means of making a good marriage match possible, Bryony has been biding her time until she could escape the confinement that is her every day life. When that “escape” comes in the form of kidnapping, while Bryony could have managed everything if it had been just herself, the fact that her cousin Cecelia is also taken alongside with her complicates matters.
Adderly, while he expects to be entertained to some extent by the events that unfold, he never would be thought it possible to be taken by surprise when it comes to Bryony. Her calm and unflappable demeanor, even under the most trying circumstances leaves him with an indescribable feeling coursing through him. Furthermore, when it would be far easier to have his way with the silly chit that is Bryony’s cousin, Adderly finds himself drawn to the plain looking thing that Bryony is, in a way that he is not at all comfortable with.
In the midst of it, Ms. Stuart also brings to life a secondary romance between Cecelia and Peter Barnes, member of the Bow Street Magistrate’s Court who is hired by Cecelia’s parents to bring her back home, leaving Bryony to her fate.
The Absolutely Positively Worst Man in England, Scotland and Wales is a story that brings an abundance of joy to to the expectant fans of Ms. Stuart. It has the hero whose reluctance to accept his feelings towards the heroine prevents him from giving in, and the heroine who at first, with her survival instincts kicking in, knows that the hero heralds the end of her life as she had known it.
While both Bryony and Adderly may not want to accept the heat that is very much alive between them, especially Adderly who knows better, there is no denying nor resisting what is inevitable. Their coming together is explosive in the way only Ms. Stuart can deliver scenes of passion, and the aftermath giving you that ton of angst to keep your adrenaline pumping. While Adderly tries (he truly does), to leave Bryony behind and get on with his life (though there is not much to it without her by his side), towards the end, it is Bryony who musters up the strength required to get them to their happily ever after.
I did love the story as it unfolded, with the main protagonists being endearing in their own unique ways. When it comes to the secondary romance, at first, I did not mind much for Cecelia’s character – I just found her to be a “convenient distraction” from what was springing to life between Adderly and Bryony. I felt quite annoyed by the time Ms. Stuart dedicated to Cecelia at that point in time. But once Peter Barnes came into the picture, I somehow found myself eagerly waiting for the bits and pieces to their story as well, finding Peter to be a hero I would have loved reading about more!
Adderly is an addictive hero – there is no doubt about that. He is lethal to your heart in a way that you foresee, but at the same time, you are unable to prevent him from piercing through and staking his claim on it. Bryony, with her calm and at times motherly nature, is exactly what Adderly needs but resists up till the very last minute. Adderly hides his scars behind the mask of indifference and boredom that assails his life and there is a darkness to his past that he has never really recovered from. The tantalizing bits and pieces to his past that Ms. Stuart dangles is just enough to draw your own conclusions and that is somehow enough to understand where Adderly is coming from.
At the cost of repeating myself, I loved the scenes of passion; they were certainly decadent. Though there was an epilogue to the story (readers deserved one after all the upheavals that we went through), it was a strange one to say the least. But nevertheless, it did serve its purpose, leaving the reader wanting more, and at the same time wondering whether Ms. Stuart would write a story about finding the modern day equivalent of Adderly. As an avid fan of Ms. Stuart, I can only hope!
Definitely recommended for fans of anti heroes, fans of Ms. Stuart, and those who love historical romances!
Final Verdict: Ms. Stuart does it yet again, delivering a delectably phenomenal read, with characters who tug at your heart and incite every sort of emotion conceivable.
He lifted his mouth from hers. “Open up, poppet,” he said, devilment in his eyes. “It’s time you learned to kiss properly.”
“I know about proper kisses,” she said somewhat breathlessly.
“I stand corrected—let me show you about improper kisses.” He dropped his mouth to hers once more, and his tongue touched hers with a slow, languorous stroke.
“Never let it be said I disappointed a lady,” he muttered, and before she realized it, he’d crossed the safe distance that had remained between them, slid his hands through the loose curls on the back of her head and crushed his mouth down on hers.
Cecilia Elliston had kissed seventeen men and boys, and she considered herself a reasonable expert in the matter, but she’d never, ever been kissed like Peter Barnes kissed her. He’d turned her around, pressing her up against the wall, and his mouth slanted across hers, hot and hard and wet.
“I’m not a termagant.”
“Perhaps not. In fact, I’m not entirely sure how sweet you are beneath your calm exterior. I have every intention of finding out.” Before she could sense what he was doing, he’d slid one hand behind her neck and drawn her face to his, his open mouth covering hers.
She’d thought he was calm, poised, playing games with her, but his kiss wiped out any pretense of self-control. With a low growl, he turned her in his arms, so that she was straddling him on the wooden chair, and she could feel him between her legs, that hard part of him that fascinated and frightened her. He used his tongue, kissing her with such a ferocity that she could do nothing but let herself be kissed, as slowly he moved her, back and forth over that solid ridge of flesh beneath his breeches.
He took her hand away from her body and placed it between his legs. “There’s your proof. If you want to swear this night never happened, then be my guest. Most men wouldn’t notice whether you were a virgin or not.”
She tried to pull her hand back, but he held it there. “Night?” she echoed doubtfully.
“All night long,” he confirmed. “Now come here.”
“I am here,” she said stubbornly, trying to ignore the fear and desire that were building anew within her.
“Closer.” Obediently, she crossed the tiny distance so that she knelt between his long legs. “Now kiss me. Kiss me the way I kissed you.”
This was the point of no return, her last chance to say no. She leaned forward and put her mouth against his, and her uncovered breasts pressed against his chest. She tried to retreat, but he put his arm around her, pulling her closer, and he deepened the kiss, his tongue meeting her shy one, coaxing it, teasing it, so that she forgot to think, so lost in sensation that she felt drugged with it. With lust, he said.
The first, tiny wash of pleasure was a shock, and she let out a little gasp as it hit her. He lifted his head, breathing on her tender parts. “You liked that, didn’t you? Stop fighting me and you’ll like it a lot more.” He licked again, and then slid two long fingers inside her.
The sudden invasion shocked her, and she squirmed, but it only seemed to bring her closer to his mouth, as he explored, licked, and sucked with seemingly all the time in the world, and his fingers pumped into her slowly, readying her, and this was all too much…
The sudden convulsion hit her, so fast and so hard that she cried out, but instead of drawing back, he redoubled his efforts, and she felt the nip of his teeth. It was the last thing she remembered, as darkness shut around her, her entire body seemed to explode in tiny pinpricks of reaction, and no sooner had one wave crashed them another rose, and she was crying, thrashing, caught in the maelstrom.
He didn’t move, holding himself just slightly above her so that his full weight wasn’t crushing her, and his eyes were closed, his face cold and hard in the moonlight. Slowly, her body relaxed, beginning to accept his presence so deep inside her, and she wanted what she’d felt before, that glorious, unsettling crash of feelings that had now left her completely. She tried to shift, but his voice came, hard and strained.
She stayed still, wondering when this would be over. Though admittedly, there was a certain…pleasure in being covered by him, surrounded and invaded by all that strength.
“Are we done?” she whispered, uncertain.
His laugh was the last thing she expected, and she could feel it all through her body, everywhere his skin touched her. “We’ve only begun.”
He bit her breast, and reaction slammed down on her, that mindless, blinding delight, multiplied by a thousand candle flames, and he was moving fast now, deep, powerful thrusts that only made her needier. She wanted to tell him, but she’d lost the power of speech, and he was moving so fast, slamming into her, and their bodies were slick with sweat, and she needed…
And she was gone, lost in a storm of sensation that she simply shattered in his arms, holding tightly, as if she were drowning, and he was the only port in the storm. She was vaguely aware that he suddenly pulled out of her, and she felt the heat and wetness on her stomach, and she wanted to cry out. She needed him inside her, she needed everything….
“More,” he whispered hoarsely, and before she realized what he was doing he’d pulled her down onto him, still hard, and she let out a little cry of distress and satisfaction, as she felt him grow within her. “Your turn,” he said in a rough voice, hard hands at her hips, moving her.
She pushed against his shoulders, straightening up, and the sensation was strange, different, wonderful, and he was moving her, in small increments, up and down his shaft, rubbing inside her. Fresh need filled her, and she was the one who needed more, needed more of him, all of him. She didn’t need his hands guiding the rhythm, she’d caught it on her own, and she moved, sure and certain, pulling up high and then sinking down again with a cry of pure satisfaction.
She came again, harder this time, and the little shriek was music to his ears, but when he went back for more, she pushed him away. “Wait,” she said in a hoarse voice. “Wait.”
“I don’t feel like waiting,” he growled, so close to the taste of her that it was driving him mad.
“Get over it,” she said, and he fell back with a laugh. She was standing up to him. No one ever stood up to him, particularly in bed, and his cock grew unimaginably harder.
She got to her knees on the mattress, looking down at him, and she looked like a hoyden, an angel, and something in between. She looked like a woman without fear, and he wanted to celebrate it, but instead, she pushed him down on the bed and followed with her kiss.
He pulled out, and she let out of cry of desolation. “No!” she moaned, but he simply flipped her over beneath him, so that her face was in the disordered sheets.
“Yes,” he said, pulling her hips up. “This way.” And he pushed inside her from the back, feeling her quim tighten around him once more, rippling in reaction, and finally he was released, let go. He thrust into her like a madman, over and over, until she suddenly shrieked, clamping down around him, and he exploded inside her, filling her with his seed, collapsing over her, holding her beneath him as he spurted, and at the last minute, he latched his teeth onto her neck and bit her like a big cat marking his mate.