What a Lady Demands by Ashlyn MacNamara is Book 2 of the Eton Boys Trilogy, a series of books about three best friends and the way their paths intersect through their discovery of love. In Book 1, the honorable, upright Alexander Sanford experiences his own tribulations in the courtship of Henrietta Upperton, the intriguing sister of the main character from another book by MacNamara called A Most Devilish Rogue. Alex’s younger sister, Cecilia, faces ruin from her actions including the kidnapping of her nieces while under her watch. It is no wonder she fleas from her brother’s constant chastisement.
Now in Book 2, Cecilia is determined to win back her brother’s respect. She applies for a job as governess with Sanford’s former best friend, Richard Blakewell, Viscount Lindenhurst. As a young girl of fifteen she was infatuated by Lind’s handsomeness even though he was nine years her senior. At the age of twenty three, she desperately tries to convince Lind she is responsible enough for the post. Demonstrating the required obedience, loyalty, and an impeccable morality is a stretch, but Cecilia is determined to be successful, especially after she meets his crippled son, Jeremy, who needs all the love and support she can provide. Cecilia realizes something is not right when she discovers that there are only two remaining original staff, the housekeeper and butler, the rest having been summarily dismissed for flimsy reasons. The housekeeper is closed mouth and uncooperative, but Cecilia is able to pry from her bits and pieces of Lind’s story involving the death of his beloved wife and the near drowning of his son at the nearby lake. Between the guilt from this disaster and the horrible wounds Lind received during the Napoleonic wars resulting in a leg injury which limits his movements, his behavior towards others is rigid, stifling, and mean tempered. For example, the staff give their weekly reports by standing at attention while The Lord has his evening meal, even though they are bone tired at the end of the workday. This disregard for feelings extends to his son who is a lost soul at the age of five, not understanding his father’s lack of love. Cecilia does her best to resolve the inner conflict within Lind, so he can develop a relationship with his son and hopefully return her fond feelings. Complicating matters is attempts of blackmail by Eversham, the man who took her virtue, and Lind’s obsession for revenge on his former friend and classmate, Rowan Battencliffe, the main character in Book 3 of the series.
Ashley MacNamara has an easy way with words and describes exhilarating love scenes in her stories, but a good Regency Romance requires a little more. In this particular book it is difficult to identify the villain. Sanford is insufferable and unsympathetic to his sister’s plight. Eversham is just plain evil in his plot to ruin Cecilia. The reader is unsure of whether to hate or feel sorry for Rowan’s impending doom. This is because the main character, Lord Blakewell, is infinitely unlikable. He is mean, self-centered, with little regard to other’s welfare. His affair with Cecilia is not born of love, but his own need for comfort and lust. The fact Cecilia stays and tries to reform the bastard says a lot about her character. Yet our heroine is flawed as well.
Still, I recommend this novel for an interesting, fast paced story with plenty of action and some lively sex scenes. I give it three solid stars.
I also would like to thank the Random House Publishing Group (Loveswept) for allowing me to download this book for free in exchange for an unbiased review.