Saturday, January 20, 2018

Review: A Gentleman's Bidding by Jean Wilde

Title: A Gentleman's Bidding
Author: Jean Wilde
Genre/Age: Historical Romance/Adult
Series: Scarlet Salon (Book One)
Publisher: Self-published
Format: ebook via Author
Rating: ✺✺✺
SynopsisMiss Emily Price is in desperate need of funds. With her family estate mortgaged and her young brother not yet of age, it falls to her to save her family from financial ruin. What is a lady with no title or connections to do? Auction her virginity at one of London’s most notorious brothels. 

Heir to a baronetcy, James Hughes has always been caught between two worlds. His fortune and education help him pass for a member of the ton but his career as an engineer and his family ties stop him from actually becoming one. Quiet and serious-minded, he knows he needs to marry into the peerage for his sake, as well as, his family’s. But when he finds himself by chance at an auction in London’s infamous Scarlet Salon he throws his ambitions to the wind to bed the lovely Miss Price.

It doesn’t take long for Emily to lose her heart to her dry-humoured, generous benefactor. But when their affair goes public in one of the most scandalous newspapers in town, Emily must decide if she must cast her feelings aside and leave James to pursue his societal ambitions, and James must decide if family and duty are worth giving up the chance of love. 

Scandal, manipulation and ambition hinder the lovers’ path to happiness. Only they can decide if love is worth fighting for.

**Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book.**

Love found in the most unconventional of ways...

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When the family's financial problems lead Emily to a renowned brothel, she has a proposition she's sure the madame won't be able to refuse. An auction to sell her virginity to the highest bidder. And while Emily knows this will leave her future and reputation in tatters, she is determined to follow through and pay back their mounting debt.

The last thing James expected to do while accompanying a friend to a brothel was to place a bid on a complete stranger. And to win. Taking the prize is pure pleasure and offering the woman a place as his mistress is another easy decision. Remembering that their arrangement is only temporary is much harder to do.

But while the couple may have sparks in bed together, their story hits the local gossip rags and society isn't as forgiving to their scandalous ways. Meanwhile, Emily's best friend finds herself being pursued by a moneylender who will do anything to win her heart. Despite scheming debutantes, judgmental parents, and a vicious journalist, both couples will have to decide if their love is worth fighting for.

I've never read anything by this author before, but I was intrigued by the book's description. A woman willing to give up her chances of marriage in order to pull her family's estate from the ruins? I can admire that. And an auction for a lady's virginity usually means there is some naughty fun on the way. Oh, and the gorgeous book cover helped sway me too.

One thing that surprised me about this book was that there are two couples here, instead of just one. We have our main pair, brought together by the auction. And then we have the other couple who, while being secondary characters, still get their story told in a nice way. I can't say I really preferred one over the other. Emily and James' relationship was sweet and romantic, while Annabeth and Edward had a more tense and steamy affair. Both were entertaining.

The plot seemed fairly straightforward, according to the blurb: man wins a woman's virginity and they fall for each other. But it actually was more complicated than it appeared. There are a lot of characters and even the secondary ones get a good dose of attention. Due to heavy head-hopping, we see things from quite literally every character's point-of-view. This can be beneficial, at times, but it is often hard to tell exactly whose thoughts we are listening to.

Which leads me to my reason for deducting a star. The trouble I had with the book was in the writing style. The POV changed so abruptly that it caught me off guard more than once. Also, this could do with a good scrub by a solid editor. I wouldn't change any of the plot or the dialogue, really. I would just fix the head-hopping issues and grammar problems (repeating words in the same sentence, etc.). These things usually get better with more writing experience so there is definite hope for improvement as the series goes on.

In closing...
I'm curious to see if Isabelle will be the next courtesan to find love. Four suns!

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