Tuesday, June 2, 2015

New Release and Review: The Lady Hellion by Joanna Shupe

The Lady Hellion 
by Joanna Shupe
Series:  Wicked Deceptions, #3
Pub. Date:  May 26, 2015
Publisher:  Zebra
Pages:  352
Format: eARC
Source:  Netgalley

My Rating:  
Sultry Scale:

Lady Sophia Barnes doesn’t take no for an answer. Especially when she’s roaming London’s seedy underground…dressed as a man.

A rabble rouser for justice, Sophie’s latest mission is to fight for the rights of the poor, the wretched—and the employees at Madame Hartley’s brothel. She’s not concerned about the criminals who will cross her path, for Sophie has mastered the art of deception—including the art of wearing trousers. Now her fate is in her own hands, along with a loaded gun. All she needs is instruction on how to shoot it. But only one person can help her: Lord Quint, the man who broke her heart years ago. The man she won’t let destroy her again…

The last thing Damien Beecham, Viscount Quint, needs is an intrusion on his privacy, especially from the beautiful, exasperating woman he’s never stopped wanting. A woman with a perilously absurd request, no less. For Damien is fighting a battle of his own, one he wishes to keep hidden—along with his feelings for Lady Sophia. Yet that fight is as hopeless as stopping her outlandish plan. Soon all Quint knows for certain is that he will die trying to protect her…

Joanna Shupe is a talented new historical romance author, and I have really enjoyed this series of steamy romances set in the Georgian era of British history. This book follows Lady Sophia and Viscount Quint, who we met in The Courtesan Duchess and The Harlot Countess.

Lady Sophia, at age 27, considers herself an unmarriageable spinster after she was duped by a rake during her first debut. Feeling oppressed by the limitations on women in society, Sophie decides to dress as a man in order to investigate matters for women whom society snubs. Her investigations take her through brothels, gaming hells, the docks, and other unsavory parts of the ton. Because Sophie is a good sleuth, she comes to the notice of some very dangerous people while she is investigating a serial killer of the Jack the Ripper variety. Sophia was a likable heroine, not of the dishwater miss variety that are somewhat common in historicals. Sophie flaunts convention to do what she believes is right, which is an admirable trait, but that leads her into danger more often than not. When she gets in over her head, she decides to approach Quint, whom she has admired for many years.

Damien, Viscount Quint, after suffering a gunshot injury in The Harlot Countess, becomes an agoraphobic prone to panic attacks and bouts of terror. Despite the tender feelings he has always held for Sophie, he does not need her meddling in his life while he is hiding such a huge secret. Luckily Sophia won't take no for an answer and forces her way into Quint's life. I really liked Quint, who is somewhat of a nerdy beefcake. Instead of cursing, Quint exclaims chemical elements when excited/angry - Sweet cadmium! His nerdish tendencies were endearing and unique for the genre.

This story and romance was paced well, there was no insta-love (yay!) but a sweetly unfolding relationship as Quint helped Sophie and vice versa. Speaking of the relationship, there was some very steamy sexytime in this book. But, if you have read the rest of the series, you know that Ms. Shupe is not afraid to steam up the pages. Characters from earlier books take a back seat in this installment, as the focus is on finding a serial killer and forcing Quint over his fear of going insane. If you are looking for a heated historical, this series is a must read.

I received and advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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Author Info

Award-winning author JOANNA SHUPE has always loved history, ever since she saw her first Schoolhouse Rock cartoon. While in college, Joanna read every romance she could get her hands on and soon started crafting her own racy historical novels. She now lives in New Jersey with her two spirited daughters and dashing husband.
 Author Links:  Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads


Wicked Deceptions Series

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So when his jaw dropped, she braced herself.
Your second? Quints brows flattened. You need me to serve as your second? For a duel? As in, ten paces in a field at dawn?
Yes. Precisely that.
And with whom in the name of Heracles would you be dueling?
She nibbled her lip. What were the chances she could avoid explaining it before he agreed? Does it matter?
He traveled around the bulk of the desk and stopped in front of her. Though she was on the tall side, he was a few inches taller. She liked that he didnt loom over her. It allowed her to better see his face, and he had an interesting face. Astute brown eyes with golden flecks. A strong, angular jaw. High, sharp cheekbones that set off a nose too masculine to ever be called pretty.
His hair was shaggy, his clothes rumpled and appallingly ill-matched. No, he did not inspire swoons in the ballroom, but perfection had never interested Sophie.
And there was the root of the problem.
The man was intelligent in ways most people couldnt even comprehend. They thought him odd. Unsocial. Aloof. He never danced or paid afternoon calls. But those opinions, if he even paused to hear them, didnt affect him as far as Sophie could tell. He exuded confidence, unshakable beliefs that were based on well-researched facts. His ability to recall the smallest detail hed read fifteen years ago fascinated her.
Quint folded his arms across his chest. Yes, it very much matters. And its not as if you can hide the other partys identity, if Im to serve as your secondunless you plan to blindfold me. But all of that is irrelevant as I cannot, in good conscience, allow you to go through with a duel.
Without a cravat, the strong column of his throat shifted and rippled as he talked, and she was reminded that shed once had the opportunity to experience the power in his lithe frame. Had once shivered as hed clutched her so tight she could hardly breathe.
But that was long ago, years now, all before hed fallen in love with someone else. A lump formed in her throat, regret nearly choking her, but she forced it down. And I cannot see how you can possibly prevent it. I do not need your approval.
Cocking his head, he studied her with shrewd scrutiny. What happens if I say no?
She lifted a shoulder. I shall muddle through somehow.
If you do, your reputation will suffer.
My reputation has already sufferedwhich is why I have accepted the challenge. To repair it.
He huffed a seemingly exasperated laugh. That is ridiculous.
Oh, because Im a woman I cannot have honor?
I never said that. Women can duel if they so choose, as far as Im concerned. Stupidity is not ascribed to gender. Whats ridiculous is thinking no one will learn of it. Nigh on impossible to keep a duel private these days.
Yes, but you wont tell anyone. Neither will I, for that matter.
Your opponent might, as could the surgeon who is taxed with removing a ball from your chest. But it hardly matters because I cannot serve as your second.
Cannotor will not?
A flush stole over his cheekbones. Was he embarrassed? Shed never, ever seen him blush. Cannot, he said. And youd better not go through with it.
Intolerable, high-handed males. Sophie had suffered them her whole life. Between idiotic rules and unrealistic expectations, an English womans life was more constricting than stays after a five-course meal. I must. And will you tell me why?
No. Will you tell me why you need to duel?
She shook her head. No. I cannot.
He shifted, coming close enough to send her pulse racing. She could see the rise and fall of his chest, the shadow of tomorrows beard on his jaw. Strong, wide shoulders, lean waist. Heat radiated off his body to warm her in all the places ladies never mentionedplaces that Sophie happened to like quite a bit. He was such a complicated specimen of brains and brawn, a combination she happened to find particularly appealing.
Not to mention he had full, strong lips that she knew firsthand were quite adept at turning a womans insides to jelly. Well, hers, at least.
Cannot, or will not? he asked, refocusing her attention.
She hated having her words turned around on her, so she ignored the question altogether and sidled away. Will you at least teach me how its done? She peered at the stack of books on the floor behind his desk, the ones hed hidden when she entered. They were all medical journals on . . . diseases of the brain. Every single one. Now why hadnt he wanted her to see those?
Dueling? You want to learn how to stand on a field and shoot at another person?
She glanced up at him. Yes. Ive never even fired a pistol before.
Firing is not the hard part. Hitting something is the trick.
I thought the point of a duel was to miss.
Deloping is considered ungentlemanly. Have you not even read the Code Duello? The point of a duel is to restore your honor while not getting yourself killed. And to place your bullet where it will do the least damage.
See how little I know? You can teach me.
No. I cannot involve myself in this. You should merely apologize to whichever lady youve slighted and end it.
It is impossible to apologize. And why can you not be involved?
He placed his hands on his hips. Many reasons. Six, to be precise. Would you like them in alphabetic order or order of importance?
She sighed. This was going badly. She had no one else to ask, no one with a chance of keeping her secret. And she and Quint were friends . . . of a sort. Based on their previous history, shed thought hed agree. That he would, at the very least, want to protect her. What could she do to convince him?
Fine. I shall ask someone else.
He quirked an eyebrow, his expression too knowing, drat him. And whom shall you enlist in this tutelage?
She rapidly searched her brain for a name, for any bits of gossip shed overheard. Lord MacLean has been rumored in a number of duels. He must know the way of it.
And hes a rake. Burned through the entire lot of Edinburgh innocents and had to come to London just to ravish more. Your reputation would never survive it.
That hardly signifies. In more ways than one. I merely want the ins and outs of the thing. And if you will not show me, I will find someone who can.
His jaw hardened, but his eyes burned into her, churning with an emotion shed never seen before. Was it . . . doubt? It gave her pause. Quint moved about the world with ease, with no need to question himself because he was rarely wrong. Any criticisms he encountered were for matters he cared little for, such as the unfashionable length of his hair or his appalling sartorial sense.
But this was new. He looked . . . uncertain.
Then you must do whatever you feel necessary, he finally said, reaching to knead his temples with his fingertips. I apologize I am unable to fulfill your request. Taylor will see you out. He bowed and then headed for the door.
She watched him go, stunned at both his rudeness and the expression on his face.
Quint, she called to his back. He stopped but did not turn. Are you all right?
Never better, he answered and disappeared into the corridor.
No, she whispered into the empty room. Somehow I think not.