Pairing a tortured hero and a strong-minded
heroine creates a
dynamic conflict and off-the-charts
sexual tension. Throw in lots of witty dialogue and a nontraditional happy ending, and you've got a keeper.
An infamous rake, Matthew, Earl of Wallingford, has no use for women beyond sex. Uninterested in his inheritance, Matthew is an artist -- to his father's dismay -- and tries to finance his own gallery by selling one of his erotic paintings. After the auction Matthew is attacked by thieves, then taken to a nearby hospital where he's nursed by Jane Rankin, a lady's companion. His eyes bandaged, Matthew knows Jane only by her voice, touch and scent -- and he's fascinated.
After several sensual encounters, Jane falls in love, but when they finally meet face to face, Matthew doesn't recognize her and dismisses her. Soon afterward, they meet again when they're partnered in a wedding party, and Matthew realizes his mistake. They begin an affair, but they can't marry, even if Matthew could overcome the shame of the sexual abuse that has left him so emotionally frozen. (SPICE, May, 336 pp., $13.95)