Helene had a shrewd feeling that she would be besieged with morning callers. No staid matron could chop off all her hair, put on a flagrantly outrageous gown, and disappear from a ballroom with the Earl of Mayne, without every single female acquaintance she had in the world -- and several whom she did not -- developing a burning ambition to take tea at her house.
Your Wicked Ways is the fourth book in Eloisa James's Duchess Quartet. I haven't read the other three, but Your Wicked Ways seemed to stand well enough on its own. James provided just enough background for Helene's besties (heroines of prior novels) for me to understand why they're all friends, but not so much as to make me feel she was padding out Your Wicked Ways by rehashing prior novels (this can be a problem in series).
I know I was very grumpy about historical romances a few months ago and said I would stop reading them, but ... I changed my mind after James mentioned this novel during the "Steamy Stories -- Bestselling Romance and Erotica Authors" at the Big Book Getaway. A funny but sexy novel about a woman so in want of a child that she would move in with her husband and his mistress to get one? Yes, please!
And I was not disappointed. Your Wicked Ways was, apparently, the tasty romantic candyfloss I'd been secretly yearning for and (aside from the outdoor sexytimes which, briefly, made me what to put the novel aside because sexytimes do not belong outdoors) I gobbled it up in ninety minutes. Seriously. That's one and a half lunch breaks. And I was eating while I read it.
I think Your Wicked Ways is the first historical romance I've read where the male romantic lead is terrible at sex (even his mistress mocks him). Obviously, like real human beings, he gets better with practice and is pretty hot stuff by the end of the novel. And that was quite refreshing, you know, because Romantic Heroes are always Masters of the Sexyverse and the heroine's first time with the hero is always Totes Awesome.
Your Wicked Ways by Eloisa James (Avon, 2004)