USA Today Bestselling Author
She knows what she wants.
Miss Sophie Kendall is happiest arranging the secret meetings of the Debutante Underground, a group of women who come together to discuss the weekly advice column The Debutante’s Revenge. What makes Sophie most unhappy is her impending march down the aisle to a man she does not love. But her family’s finances are in increasingly dire straits.
He makes an offer she can’t refuse.
Henry Reese, Earl of Warshire, hasn’t slept in weeks. Desperate to escape his manor house and its haunting memories, he heads for one of his abandoned London properties. There he meets a beautiful, intriguing woman―trespassing. Reese is far less interested in Sophie’s search for a secret meeting spot than he is in her surprising ability to soothe his demons. So he strikes a bargain with her: his shop in exchange for spending one night a week with him.
Is this love for real―or just a dream?
Sophie never expected this to happen. But she cannot deny the fire Reese sparks in her―and soon their shared desire burns bright. Sophie is irrevocably promised to another. But maybe these two ill-fated lovers can find a way to risk it all―all the way to happily ever after…
Certainly well ahead of their time, Fiona, Lily and Sophie have compiled a diary of their experiences as debutantes. The premise is to compile advice into a weekly column, Lily is the author of the column The Debutante’s Revenge and Fiona is the artist who’s drawings accompany it. Sophie on the other hand, holds meetings with fans of the column. Known as the Debutante Underground, they meet each Friday evening to discuss the column that published that day.
Fiona is married to an Earl, Lily a Duke and Sophie is soon to be engaged to a Marquess. Only unlike her friends she is not in love with the man she’s promised to.
Henry Reese the Earl of Warshire, wasn’t supposed to be Earl, he was the second son and was happy serving in the armed forces. When his brother died in a tragic accident he had to leave his men. Now he is tortured with nightmares and guilt over the men who died soon after he left. Sleep is something he needs but forces himself to stay awake.
Sophie is looking for a new venue to hold the meetings of the Debutante Underground. One of the members mentions a vacant building near where they currently meet, and Sophie checks it out after a meeting. It’s late and she’s surprised the door is unlocked but decides to investigate anyway. She is startled by a man she assumes is the owner and tailor Mr. Peabody, but in actuality is the Earl. This first encounter is intriguing and for the first time in a very long time the Earl sleeps peacefully.
It’s not that encounter that was the most poignant to me, it’s the second, where he arranges to see her in the garden at a ball. The proposition he puts forth is almost denied until he does something very sweet and romantic.
This is a favorite scene.
But he couldn’t let her leave without playing his very last card, which wasn’t a card at all. “Wait,” he said. He reached behind the base of the birch tree and picked up the single rose he’d cut from his garden that morning. The yellow blossom, large as a saucer, had reminded him of her– bold and open, but soft, too. And the petals, brilliant gold with hinds of orange at the edges, were as fresh as the sunrise. As warm as her smile.
He said none of those things, of course, as he gave her the flower, opting instead for, “This is for you.”
Her eyes grew wide and her lips parted. “It’s beautiful,” she whispered, holding it up in the moonlight. “I’ve never seen a rose quite like this. Did you find it in Lady Rufflebum’s garden?”
He shook his head. “It’s from Warshire Manor.”
“You have a garden?” she asked, as if he’d piqued her curiosity.
“I’m not certain you could call it a garden. More of a wasteland. A colorless collection of dead bushes and shriveled flowers.”
“But this rose,” she said twirling the stem between her fingertips.
“It was the only blossom on the bush. Probably the one living thing in the whole damned place.”
“Truly?” she asked, intrigued.
He took a step closer, determined to memorize the gentle slope of her nose and the bowed shape of her lips. He didn’t blame her for refusing to help him. But if he wasn’t ever going to see her again, he might as well leave her with the truth. In a sea of decay and death, that rose was a stubborn spot of sunshine–and it reminded me of you.”
He shoved his hands deep in his pockets and swallowed a mouthful of despair and loneliness. Tried not to think about the endless days and torturous nights that stretched out before him. He inclined his head and said, “Enjoy the rest of your evening,” before turning on his heel and striding away.
He’d almosst reached Lady Rufflebum’s back gate when he heard Miss Kendall call out behind him. “Reese. Wait.”
He froze, wondering if he’d wished her voice into his ears. But when he slowly spun around, she was standing there, her chest rising and falling with each breath.
“I still don’t believe that I can help you sleep,” she said, “but I’m willing to try.”
A tiny seed of hope took root inside him. “Thank you,” he said, his voice ragged to his own ears.
Anna Bennett, When You Wish Upon A Rogue, (Kindle Locations 559-578). ST Martin’s Paperbacks. Kindle Edition.
With the agreement in place an unusual relationship develops between Reese and Sophie.
The underground has a place to meet and even with her impending engagement Sophie finds herself falling in love with Reese. She is determined to do her duty and marry to save her family from financial disaster, but is in no way happy about it.
With Sophie’s help Reese also starts confronting his demons and there are many surprises here as well.
Plenty of secrets and a few wonderful surprises that had me turning the pages to see if these two could possibly get their Happily Ever After.
I have to go back now and read both Lily and Fiona’s stories. I love these women.
5 Contented Purrs for Anna!
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Anna Bennett started swiping romances from her mom’s bookshelf as a teenager and decided historicals (with their balls, dukes, and gowns) were the best. So, when she had the chance to spend a semester in London she packed her bags—and promptly fell in love with the city, its history, and its pubs. She dreamed of writing romance, but somehow ended up a software analyst instead.
Fortunately, a few years and a few careers later, Anna found her way back to writing the stories she loves and won the Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart® for Regency Historical Romance. She lives in Maryland with her husband and three children, who try valiantly not to roll their eyes whenever she quotes Jane Austen. Her weaknesses include reality TV, cute shoes, and coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.