The sheer inventiveness of Minerva Spencer’s historical romance Dangerous left me stunned and admiring. I’ve read about princes and princesses, highlanders, and pirates, and I’ve read lots about marriages of convenience, but I’ve never read a historical romance about a woman who escaped from a harem and now looks to marry in England.
I feel compelled to use so many “so”s when describing this book: it’s so bold, captivating, and sensual that it feels positively decadent.
Dangerous is the romantic adventure I didn’t even realize that I’ve been looking for: a 33-year-old woman, Euphemia Marlington, called Mia, must find a husband because the ton talks too much about her and where she’s been for 17 years. Little do they know that she’s been living in a harem, where she was sent after being kidnapped by corsairs, and that she has a teenage son, Jibril, whom she left in Oran—by his command—so that he could attempt to wrest control of his father’s holdings. That truth might send someone running for smelling salts.
When the book opens, Mia’s father, the Duke, lectures her yet again. Mia doesn’t care for it.
“Euphemia Marlington considered poisoning the Duke of Carlisle. After all, in the harem poison was a perfectly reasonable solution to one’s problems. Unfortunately, poison was not the answer to this particular problem. First, she had no poison, or any idea how one acquired such a thing in this cold, confusing country. Second, and far more important, poisoning one’s father was considered bad ton.”
But Mia’s moved to consider marriage by his threats, as well as her common sense: if she can find the right spouse, she’ll have the freedom she requires to leave said spouse so that she can retriever her secret son, Jibril.
Enter Adam, a marquess. He’s also the subject of chatter because his two previous wives died and members of the ton suspect that he is behind their deaths. He needs an heir.
Mia and Adam decide to marry for three big reasons: they're attracted to one another, they see the other person as capable of providing what they need, and perhaps more than that, they don’t have a lot of other viable options.
Minerva Spencer doesn’t just write a thrilling adventure story, she writes a thrilling romance. The attraction between Mia and Adam is palpable, a live, electric thing that propels the plot forward. But while Mia and Adam seem remarkably honest with one another, they’re actually both keeping something huge secret, and it might tear their marriage apart.
Spencer, who is a stellar writer and an exhilarating voice, makes Dangerous feel modern: a sign of where romance is going. I adored the more mature hero and heroine who both know what they want, even if they’re soon persuaded in the early days of their marriage that what they thought they wanted isn’t enough. And perhaps even more than that, I loved reading about a heroine who is nuanced, who is devoted to her child but not just a mother, who is kind but not a push-over, and who loves and lives passionately, if not perfectly.
Like this one? The Naptime Writer also recommends: any book by Sarah MacLean (her characters are also wonderfully unconventional) and Kerrigan Byrne (they're much darker than this one, but they're also a compelling mix of adventure and romance).
Give me that HEA, please.
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