Compromising the Marquess by Wendy Soliman
Book Description Amazon:
Publication Date:December 10, 2012
Leah Elliot sells secrets to survive. Donning boy's clothes, she uncovers society scandals for a London gossip rag to support herself and her sister, who were left destitute after their father's death. When she meets the dashing—and perhaps dangerous—Hal Forster, the Marquess of Denby, she learns he may be involved in treason. The rumor is too valuable not to sell, despite her attraction to him…
Hal does have a secret, but he's no traitor: he's a spy embroiled in a mystery, seeking the man who killed his contact in France. He sees the alluring woman behind Leah's disguise at once but is intrigued enough to play along…until he realizes that she's the source of the rumors interfering with his investigation and forcing him into an unwanted betrothal.
Now, Hal and Leah must work together to draw out the culprit and undo the damage caused by Leah's gossip. Or will their passion only cause more scandal?
In Compromising the Marquess, Leah and her sister are forced to leave their home and take sanctuary with their uncle who truly wants the best for them, his wife not so much. Leah's sister is ill and is convinced they are moving to better her health by getting away from the smog and closer to the sea air. The truth of the matter is they were forced to move because after their father died in a fire at his bookstore, and their mother not long afterward, the girl's financial circumstances suffered greatly. Leah started dressing up as a boy and gathering information about society to sell to the gossip rags just to get by. This is how she ends up getting involved with the Marquess of Denby, Hal Forster. She believes he may be involved in treason. Hal sees through her male disguise but curiosity makes him play along to to try to figure out what she is up to. Hal eventually confides in her that he is keeping a secret, but not the one she thought.
Leah admits it is her fault when information about Hal gets leaked to the gossip pages and she tells him why she did it. This adds another twist to the story when Hal begins to investigate her father's death in the fire. He is suspicious when very valuable books once owned by Leah's father turn up in his library. Leah received very little money from the sale of the books because her father's associate said they were damaged in the fire, and he could not gain their full value. Hal is determined to get to the bottom of it and make sure Leah gets the money she was entitled to from the sale, which would mean she would be financially independent again. Hopefully he can accomplish it before her aunt throws her out on her ear.
The sparks fly between them. Leah is curious about love and sex, and she wants Hal to teach her about it. He advises her that a husband should be the one to educate her in these areas. She does not feel she will ever marry. He would have refused if not for the fact that she insisted she would find a more willing tutor. He finds "creative" ways to let Leah experience passion all the while driving himself crazy. This was the one thing that was a bit awkward for me in the book.
When the couple started working together to solve the mystery, which I felt was an integral part of the book, I think it was the best part. It was compelling, interesting, and a plot twist surprise comes in at the end that is shocking, in both the mystery and the romance areas.
I enjoyed the book. I liked the Forster brothers and the spy intrigue angle. Leah was smart, confident, and capable, a strong female lead. The chemistry was there between her and Hal, and the devotion to keep each other safe at the end makes their love for each other clearly visible.
I would rate this book two and a half stars. I liked it over all, but there was something about the way Hal and Leah were exploring sex that put me between "It was okay" and "I liked it."
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