The Virgin and the Viscount
In the next sparkling romance in debut author Charis Michael’s Bachelor Lords of London series, a proper viscount meets his match in a beguiling virgin who can't help but break all the rules.
Lady Elisabeth Hamilton-Baythes has a painful secret. At the innocent age of fifteen, she was abducted by highwaymen and sold to a brothel. After two days, a young lord discovers her and enacts a brave rescue to get her out. Now she's a grown woman, working to save other girls from the horror she saw that night and never forgetting the young man who rescued her.
Bryson Courtland, Viscount Rainsleigh has overcome an abusive boyhood, neglectful parents, and a bankrupt title to be one of the wealthiest noblemen in Britain. He works tirelessly to be upright and forthright and proper to a fault. Now he requires only one thing: A proper, forthright, proper wife.
When a charity event puts Lord Bryson and Lady Elisabeth face-to-face, Bryson has no memory of the wounded girl of long ago. All he can see is a perfect candidate to be his future wife. Elisabeth has never forgotten him, but she worries that the brave boy who saved her so long ago has become a rich man with an unfulfilled life.
As a whirlwind courtship reveals the truth, Bryson must accept that Elisabeth is actually a shadow from his dark past, while Elisabeth must show that love is the noblest virtue of all.
An open letter to Bryson Courtland, Viscount Rainsleigh,
Oh Bryson, why? Why did you have to make me have a love/hate relationship with you?
You started off great, I loved your character. Tall, dark, and handsome. A man with a past. A family knee deep in scandal. You sounded like you were an enigma and you did charm me at first. You had Mr. Darcy-esk qualities as well. But then you became bitter and mean not only to Elizabeth, but to the reader as well. You made me gasp at your insults and sigh at your smoldering sex appeal. Thank goodness you redeemed yourself there toward the end, because I was really hoping that Elizabeth would truly leave you.
You would have deserved it.
A disgruntled romance reader
I loved Elizabeth. She was also a character with a past, but she somehow managed to turn it into something great. Her wanting to help women of ill repute spoke volumes of her character. It’s a story of two pasts colliding. For, Elizabeth and Bryson met under strenuous circumstances 15 years prior to when the actual story takes place.
It’s the chance second meeting that sets Elizabeth on a path of no return. Her heart is the most valuable thing at stake. Bryson woos and seduces her with kisses. Let me just say their first kiss was hot. The only thing is, Elizabeth has a secret. She recognizes Bryson, but he doesn’t remember her. It’s a secret which seems to be her undoing. I didn’t agree with her hiding that information from him, but after the way he handles her admission, I was beginning to think that Elizabeth might be better off. Their first of many arguments were edgy. It did remind me of Mr. Darcy and Lizzy. Insults were thrown and feelings were hurt. But he makes her marry him anyway. Arguments continue, insults continue and I wondered where the happy ever after was. Oh, but I wanted to read on.
Never fear, I did mention redemption. It happens. Bryson will turn out for the better. I promise.
This was a new to me author. I liked her writing style and her ability to make me feel for the characters (even if it was frustration in some parts) made it all the more fun to read. The characters were well developed and the plot was solid. This book is part of The Bachelor Lords of London series. This reads as a standalone.
*I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*
What Is It About a Virgin?
When I revealed the title of my second book to one of my writing buddies, she wrote back: “Nice. Are virgins like the new dukes?” Apparently I’m not the only one name-checking virgins these days. She’d seen it on several other books, not unlike the proliferation of “dukes” of the last couple of years.
So, what gives? What is it about a virgin?
Before I go any further, let me acknowledge that not everyone loves a virginal heroine. In fact, some readers can’t abide them. Certainly, virgins-as-heroines are not as thick on the ground as they were back in the day, when I read my first romance in the late 1980s. In today’s contemporary romance, I’d venture to say that virgins are virtually nonexistent.
But my editor loved the title, The Virgin and the Viscount as soon as I suggested it, and as my friend said, I’m not the only author brandishing the big “V.” So perhaps this means that there are still a few of us virgin enthusiasts out there. Hey, I’ll admit, straight up, that one of my favorite romance tropes is a hero who believes a heroine is not a virgin, only to discover, after he deflowers her, that she is (or was). It’s out-dated and mysoginistic, and even I had to tone down some version of this trope (spoiler alert #1) to make my 1811-set Historical match modern sensibilities (although the resulting scene is still pretty devastating, if I do say so myself).
Regardless of who knows who’s a virgin, I still consider an innocent heroine—so long as she’s full of spunk and enthusiasm and healthy curiosity—to be playful and fun and totally sexy. She certainly offers a lot more interesting fodder for a love scene. Every romance author approaches these scenes a little differently, but for me, they must advance the story and up the stakes for the hero and heroine. In other words, they must be remarkable, worth spelling out in graphic detail. And nothing makes an interlude more worthy of remark or lengthy detail than the first time, especially for my over-the-top characters.
Also, virgins are historically accurate.
Also, we were all (or still may be) virgins, so we can relate.
Also, few sexual experiences are more wildly discussed, lamented, celebrated or (circling back) discussed than anyone’s first time. For better or for worse, we relish dishing about this topic. I defy you to think of your best friend and claim you have not heard the story of her first time.
Also—well, maybe this is more like a “primarily”—if you know me in real life, you know that I’m an old-fashioned kind of gal, and I simply prefer the virgins There, I said it. Or, at least, I prefer my eager, exploratory, and totally in-love virginal heroines. But hey—even if your not usually a fan of the virginal heroine, consider this: the leading lady in The Virgin and the Viscount (spoiler alert #2) does not know whether she is a virgin or not. Either way, I hope you’ll give Lady Elisabeth a try. And just like your best friend, let’s dish. Let me know what you think!
Charis Michaels is thrilled to be making her debut with Avon Impulse. Prior to writing romance, she studied Journalism at Texas A&M and managed PR for a trade association. She has also worked as a tour guide at Disney World, harvested peaches on her family’s farm, and entertained children as the “Story Godmother” at birthday parties. She has lived in Texas, Florida, and London, England. She now makes her home in the Washington, D.C.-metro area.