As a child, Hope had dreams of love and her very own knight in shining armor to sweep her off her feet.
Those dreams died the day her mother forced her sell her virginity to the highest bidder. Since then, Hope has done the best she could with her lot in life. She is a mistress to King Charles, but now that he is getting married, her days at court are numbered.
Charles isn't willing to give up his lover, so he tricks her into marrying Robert. He offers the country gentleman a title and more land to become her husband. Charles figures that after a few months, Hope can come back and they can resume their affair with her as a noblewoman. Robert accepts once he realizes that refusal would put his family home into the hands of his greatest enemy. Hope has no idea that she is being married off until the deed is already done.
It's hard not sympathize with poor Hope. She's never been able to live down a past that was not of her own making. She's been betrayed by anyone she has ever loved. And she is treated like dirt by just about everyone. But she has managed to hold on to a good heart and a determination to make a life for herself. It is hard to watch Charles break her heart, followed by Robert's cool distain. Even his servants act as though she is beneath them. Yet, as Robert gets to know her, he can't help but want her... this despite the very real threat that he'll have to give her back to the king.
Robert has issues of his own. He's a man driven by revenge and it's apparent early on that he'll have to choose between that and happiness before all is said and done. Those issues notwithstanding, I really enjoyed watching Hope and Robert fall in love. It was surprisingly sweet. The love scenes were sexy, though not as sweltering as I might have expected with a courtesan as the heroine. The plot progression is a bit predictable, but it was still an enjoyable ride to the inevitable conclusion.
This book is a follow up to Libertine's Kiss
and we get a peek at the backstory from that novel. But this is read easily as a stand-alone. 4 stars.*ARC Provided by NetGalley