Sabrina Jeffries begins her new Regency Historical trilogy about the Swanlea Spinsters with the wonderful A Dangerous Love.
Griffin Knighton by right of birth, should be the Earl of Swanlea, but his parents' marriage lines have been mysteriously lost, leaving Griff with the label of bastard and a painful childhood of scraping and struggling to provide for himself and his mother. He is now the wealthy owner of a successful trading company – legally aboveboard now, though it had its origins in smuggling – but is still haunted by his past and resentful about What Could Have Been. Word comes that the present earl is dying and will provide Griff with the proof of his legitimacy if he will in return marry one of his three daughters, the Swanlea Spinsters, thereby insuring they will be provided for after the earl's death.
It is an opportunity not to be missed! Griff goes to Swan Park, with no intention of marrying any of the resident shrews, but to take what is rightfully his. To aid him, he enlists his man of affairs, Daniel Brennan, to not only accompany but to switch roles with him. With Daniel fending off the advances of daughters of the house, Griff will be free to explore the premises, find the marriage certificate, and have the dying earl and his daughters evicted. And with a title in his pocket, he must finally be accepted by the ton and perhaps even land a coveted seat on the trade delegation to China.
Poor Griff, for the ladies are not what he expected – not a one of them is at all inclined to marry him. Helene, the eldest, is lovely but affected with a severe limp due to an accident, which has left her bitter and resentful of men. The youngest, Juliet, is a reluctant martyr and if really necessary she will agree to the marriage, though the large Daniel scares her to death. Rosalind wants nothing to do with either of them, but is very suspicious of Griff and is determined to stick close to him for as long as it takes to see what he's up to.
The sparks fly between Griff and Rosalind from the moment they meet when she finds Griff snooping around her father's desk and attacks him with a sword. Rosalind is a great character. She is flamboyant and has a sensual nature; she loves all kinds of physical sensations and revels in them, be they vibrant colors, the feel of silk, the savoring of food – it's no wonder she takes so eagerly to the sensations to which Griff introduces her! One of the things I liked most about this book is the fact that Rosalind is a tall, voluptuous, BIG girl and Griff loved her proportions right from the start, thought her sexy as all get out. She was a great handful and he couldn't wait to get his hands full!
Griff is a very earthy guy as befits his rough upbringing, his language and actions can be a bit crude but it was all in Griff's character. He's an angry man, determined to get his own back against those who have wronged him all his life. It takes Rosalind to show him that there are more important things in life than revenge. Of course, there is a price to be paid for deceiving Rosalind and her family. May I just put in a good word here about Hero Groveling? Yes, Griff kept his secrets for too long, though I think Sabrina Jeffries made a good case for his rationalizations about this. However, when the hero has behaved like a Class A Jerk, it is vital that he does a very good Grovel at the end. And Griff does a Very Good Grovel, indeed! Most satisfying.
Along the way, we are treated to some wonderfully funny scenes; Griff introduces Rosalind to the bawdier side of Shakespeare, and Rosalind learns about the three parts of a man (his head, his heart and his St Peter!) There are some delicious love scenes as well; I am still fanning myself over the consummation scene, which has its inception in a swing. Oh my.
This was a fun book, I greatly enjoyed my time with Rosalind and Griff and look forward to the next two installments. The next book will feature Helene and Daniel. Boy, did the sparks fly off those two – can't wait!