First and foremost, this book read like a Regency where the men just so happen to have long hair and more colorful clothing. This book is supposed to be set in 1761, yet the characters acted more like people in 1811. The clothing wasn't even all correctly described. Top hats were not worn in 1761. Women almost always wore hoops, yet I saw not a single example of this in the entire book. Also, most of the activities the main characters did were things that were popular in the Regency period, not necessarily in 1761. And even the activities that would have been popular in 1761 were not described correctly. One example of this was when the characters went to a public masquerade. Public masquerades were just that- public. Anyone with the entrance fee could go to one, yet the hero claimed that everyone would know everyone. This was definitely not the case. If you look at 18th century pamphlets about masquerades, one of their chief dangers is supposedly that you can't tell who anyone is- for all you know, you could be consorting with commoners! Also, no one at the masquerade wore a costume, only dominoes (cloaks). While a good number of people attending masquerades would have worn dominoes, there would have been plenty of people in costume, too.
Jane Feather has written many books in many different time periods, and while that is admirable, it would also seem to mean that she doesn't necessarily have a firm grasp on the particulars of every era.
Not that I have gotten past that, I will talk of the book itself. The premise is that the hero's wealthy uncle is dying, but will only leave his fortune to his three nephews if each of them marries and redeems a prostitute. This is fine and all, but then not a single one of them actually marries a prostitute. Each of the brothers merely presents their chosen wife as such to their uncle. (The third books of the series has not yet been released, but judging by the summary, I'm pretty sure the heroine of that book is not a prostitute, either.) If the author comes up with a series where the premise is that the heroes have to marry prostitutes, why not just have them marry prostitutes? I think I'd probably like it more that way.
As to the characters- the hero is kind of annoying throughout the entire book, and seems to spend most of his time trying to get under the heroine's skirts, despite her attempts to stop him. The heroine makes up lies left and right, and while this didn't bother me initially, the lies just kept piling and piling.
In summary, I do not recommend this book. Jane Feather has written some lovely books in the past, but this is not one of them. (Hopefully my review is at least semi-coherent, and not too much of a rant.)
The book starts out with an interesting premise- a woman wanting to run her family's auction house, and clever enough to figure out a way to do it. Unfortunately, both the heroine and the hero of this book were rather forgettable, and the prose itself was not particularly great. The story plodded along, very, very slowly. The ending also bothered me, but I will avoid spoilers here. (The ending is not particularly surprising- if you've read any romance novels, you can probably guess what happens as soon as you find out what the conflict is- it was just particularly frustrating. Basically, "You risked everything for that?")
I am interested in seeing how the rest of this series goes- many of the secondary characters seemed to have interesting personalities and back stories- but as an individual story, this book failed. It had it's good points, but overwhelmingly, my impression of it was just meh. If the main thing I remember about a book after reading it was how boring it was, there is definitely a problem.
There is also a TV series (by the BBC) which, though unavailable in the US, can be found on YouTube. It has won a number of awards, and I can recommend it quite highly. The songs, especially, are great, spanning such topics as English kings and queens to pirates to Aztec priests to the Borgias, and all done as parodies of various famous songs. (Lady Gaga, Gilbert and Sullivan, The Addams Family, Sex Pistols, and Michael Jackson are just a few examples of the many different songs they use.)
First off, I will say that I am a pretty devoted romance reader, and you can find plenty of books with similar plot point, though not all. Bondage? Sure. Super sexy 27-year-old billionaires? Easy. Naive virgin heroines? Everywhere. I, as well as pretty much everyone else, am confused as to what about this particular series is so appealing to such large numbers of people. While obviously not the main reason, the covers certainly help. Your average person wouldn't be caught dead with a romance clinch cover within a ten foot radius of them. This trilogy has fabulous covers. Simple, yet elegant.
As far as the writing goes, this series could really have used a good editing. Or two. The writing doesn't always sound all that natural, and especially since this is in first person, that can be jarring. Also, I think it might have been better if it were a bit shorter. Fanfiction is all well and good, but it is also not often well edited, and it shows.
Yes, the author is British, so yes, I can forgive a few Britishisms sprinkled throughout. I'm sure and English person looking through an American-written book set in England would find all sorts of problems. But many people find this to be a huge stumbling block to their enjoyment. Even more so if they have any familiarity with Seattle, as the author takes major liberties with her geography.
Also, this book was in first person. I can, occasionally, enjoy a book in first person (Sunshine by Robin McKinley being one I can immediately bring to mind), but generally I like to see a bit more of the other characters, not just the narrator and how she interprets the other characters. I mean, it's pretty obvious (at first, anyway) what she sees in a young, hot billionaire, but what does he see in her? Also, her talking to herself/conscience/inner goddess could get a little annoying.
Finally, the heroine was a door mat. She pretty much let the hero walk all over her, do what he wanted, set his conditions and whatever, and she went along with it. If someone were to give me a set of ridiculous conditions to follow before I had sex with them, and then went on to show me their "play room" when I'd hardly done more than kiss someone before, you could bet I would not be sticking around, sexy billionaire or not.
I really did try to get into this book. I usually do try with popular books, but all too often I am disappointed. Despite my excitement at seeing a romance novel this popular, I did not particularly enjoy it. However, you very well might. There is obviously some reason it is so popular, obscure though it may be, and it might just be the book for you. (If you're looking for good sex scenes, though, this is not really the place. Yes, it's kinky, but kinky does not necessarily equal good.)
The next came in the family tree, still before the book begins. On it, the eldest brother, who is deceased, is listed as being Marquess of Whatever, while the next oldest is the Earl of Something. The second brother should have inherited the same title that the eldest brother had. The heir apparent to a duke, marquess, or earl always gets the father's (or grandfather's) next highest title, not the next highest after whatever his dead brother had. His brother is dead- he doesn't get a title. This actually has nothing to do with the story, but it bothered me.
The hero is also, apparently, an earl, but somehow, no one knows, even though he does turn up in parliament every now and again. He claims to go into the House of Lords all bundled up so no on can really see his face. I really have to wonder how this is at all feasible even as a plot device. It is simply ridiculous.
Now, on to the story. The heroine has apparently lost her reticule, so she pressures the hero into helping her find it. It apparently had something precious to her in it, but really? This is the best plot you could come up with? The story just didn't seem too well put together, and the inaccuracies were too much for me, so I gave up after a hundred pages or so.