A Hellion in Her Bed
by Sabrina Jeffries
A Hellion in Her Bed is the second book in Jeffries' series, "The Hellions of Halstead Hall." The wild hellions are five siblings whose grandmother is tired of their wicked ways - the most wicked of which is, apparently, not giving her great-grandchildren - and threatens to cut them all off without a cent if they are not all married in one year's time. Succumbing this time around is Lord Jarret Sharpe.
Grandmother's wealth derives from the family business, Plumtree Brewery, and a setback in her health forces her to ask Jarret to oversee the operation until she recovers. Jarret uses the occasion to bargain for a free hand in running the brewery and a reprieve from her marriage edict. Of course, having won his freedom, he is set up to lose it in the form of Annabel Lake.
Annabel's family is in the business as well and she approaches Jarret with a proposition to join his Plumtree Brewery with her Lake Ale to break into the lucrative Indian market. While it appears to be a sound business proposal, there are secrets Annabel is hiding which threaten to impact both the businesses and their budding romance.
Jarret has always been interested in the Brewery, but his grandmother wished him to be a gentleman rather than a tradesman. His disappointments there, as well as the devastating loss of his parents under mysterious circumstances, make him leery of trusting in any permanence. He has spent his life gaming and wenching and not caring for anyone. After a scandalous wager forges the business alliance, Jarret finds new meaning and purpose in running the Brewery and he can't help but begin to care for the secretive Annabel.
Annabel's big secret is revealed very early on and it is that she has a 12 year old child from her fiancé who was killed in the war. Her brother and sister-in-law have raised George as their own, and Annabel acts as an aunt to her son. Though she has had opportunities to marry and leave her brother's home, she cannot bear to leave her son and runs the brewery in her brother's stead.
This is a familiar romance storyline: the dissolute rake vowing never to love finding new meaning and purpose through a challenge and love. What makes it fresh here is the setting and history Jeffries infuses into the brewery backdrop. It is an interesting world and an interesting time and Jeffries handles the history in a seamless and appealing way. As fascinating as this world is, it doesn't overpower the love story at its center. Both Jarret and Annabel are attractive, flawed characters with much personal growth to achieve. Jeffries handles this in her usual competent and deft manner and I spent a very enjoyable day at the Lake Ale and Plumtree Breweries.
Reviewed by Cheryl Sneed, August 17, 2010
“Another Hellion bites the marriage dust.”
September 2010, 384 pages
Mired in scandal after his parents' mysterious deaths, notorious gambler Lord Jarret Sharpe agrees to tamely run the family brewery for a year if his Machiavellian grandmother rescinds her ultimatum that he marry. But the gambler in him can't resist when beguiling Annabel Lake proposes a wager. If she wins their card game, he must help save her family's foundering brewery. But if he wins, she must spend a night in his bed. The outcome sets off a chain of events that threatens to destroy all his plans . . . and unveils the secret Annabel has held for so long. When Jarret discovers the darker reason behind her wager, he forces her into another one - and this time he intends to win not just her body, but her heart.