Lavinia Kent has a true talent of finding the right balance of sexual titillation in order to keep the reader wanting more. In the Regency Romance, Angel in Scarlet, Lady Angela Ripon is a woman scorned out for not just revenge, but vengeance. It seems that, after a promising courtship with Matthew Harkness, the Earl of Colton, she’s been summarily dumped and told they will not suit. At first Colton thought she was the one, but somehow her demeanor changed and she became just one of the mindless sheep often seen in the debutante circuit. Angela doesn’t see it that way, although she finds it difficult to feign normalcy after catching a glimpse of her suitor cavorting with a naked actress. In any case, she plans to get even by driving Colton mad with desire and then refusing his proposal.
There is only one person who can assist Angela in achieving her goal and that is Ruby, owner of the bawdy House for Gentlemen of Taste. Ruby, or Madame Rouge, is reluctant to take on any new clients, especially since she is planning on selling the business, but Angela’s story intrigues her. Colton likes a bit of BDSM, so Ruby advises Angela to let Colton dictate the action. By letting him be the master, Angela will gain the upper hand. The trick is to simply think herself beautiful, and then her seductive nature will reveal itself.
At first Colton is cold towards his former love interest, and taunts her offer to “do whatever he asks” by suggesting she bare her breasts in the garden at the ball they are attending. He can’t help but be aroused when she surprises him by obeying, even agreeing to erotically touch herself while he watches. Suddenly Colton bolts and Angela wonders what she’s done wrong. The confused Colton arranges to meet Angela at Ruby’s establishment, bringing a guest along in the hopes of scaring Angela into calling it quits. Ruby questions his motives, thinking them out of bounds, but allows the game to continue, curious about its outcome. Angela reluctantly agrees to allow Granderson play with her breasts while Colton watches, but the action is quickly stopped when Colton sees Angela is uncomfortable and an unexpected jealousy consumes him. The game continues as long as Angela, agrees to complete honesty. Despite her denials, he still thinks she is out to trick him into an unwanted marriage. Colton’s Angel agrees to follow his commands, at least in the bedroom, but draws the line at losing her virginity.
Each has their own secrets, Angela can’t reveal her true plan and Colton thinks it’s inappropriate to share his love of bondage and sexual “torture”, but that doesn’t keep them from enjoying their erotic play, often where they can easily be discovered forcing Angela to keep still so as not to give herself away. The sensuality is all consuming to the two erstwhile lovers as well as the reader.
This fifth book in the Bound and Determined series includes many of the characters we have met in the previous books. Some disturbing information is revealed about the bothersome and compulsively proper Thorton who wants to purchase the brothel. The recently wedded Duldon opens Colton’s eyes to the joys of marriage, while the pregnant Bliss, Angela’s best friend, provides support for her childhood companion. Then there is the matchmaker Lady Perse who originally introduced the two and seems to have a hand in all of The Ton’s relationships. Reading this series is like running into old friends and acquaintances.
While I did enjoy this book, my main complaint is there is quite a bit of repetition of the thoughts and conversation between Colton and Angel. The story moves back and forth between their points of view which overlaps a tad too much and slows the plot down in spite of the sexual tension. The dialogue is also mundane, distracting from the allure of the numerous lustful activities. For this reason I’m giving it three and a half stars instead of four.
A thank you to Netgalley and Loveswept Books for providing this ARC in exchange for a honest review.