Improper Relations [NOOK Book]

Overview


Dorset, 1858

When Hannah's caught watching her late husband's cousin debauch the maid in the library, she's mortified—but also intrigued. An unpaid companion to his aunt, she's used to being ignored.

The black sheep of the family, Leo has nothing but his good looks and noble birth to recommend him. Hannah ought to be appalled at what she's witnessed, but there's something about Leo that draws her to him.

When...

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Improper Relations

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Overview


Dorset, 1858

When Hannah's caught watching her late husband's cousin debauch the maid in the library, she's mortified—but also intrigued. An unpaid companion to his aunt, she's used to being ignored.

The black sheep of the family, Leo has nothing but his good looks and noble birth to recommend him. Hannah ought to be appalled at what she's witnessed, but there's something about Leo that draws her to him.

When Leo claims he can prove that women can feel desire as passionately as men, Hannah is incredulous. Her own experiences have been uninspiring. Yet she can't bring herself to refuse his audacious proposal when he offers to tutor her in the art of lovemaking. As the tantalizing, wicked lessons continue, she begins to fear she's losing not just her inhibitions, but her heart as well. The poorest of relations, she has nothing to offer Leo but herself. Will it be enough when their erotic education ends?

22,000 words

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Ross debuts with a barely serviceable Victorian romance novella featuring a widow and her late husband's wastrel cousin, adding a soupçon of mild erotic content to a stock story line and wallpaper history. The story begins with an episode that tries and fails to shock: Hannah Taylor Bell sees Lord Leo Wraxhall engaged in a sexual interlude with a housemaid and is both appalled and excited. After the maid leaves, Leo calls out to Hannah to join him for an adult discussion about what she has just seen, setting the stage for a series of love lessons. Hannah, forced by her late husband's indebtedness to act as companion to Leo's domineering mother, had a loveless marriage and cannot understand why Leo arouses her. An orgasm later and she's addicted to him; meanwhile, he is falling for the quiet widow. Bland prose, a cliché-riddled story, and tepid eroticism add up to not much more than zero. (Apr.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781426893650
  • Publisher: Carina Press
  • Publication date: 4/23/2012
  • Series: Improper Series
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: Original
  • Sales rank: 14,852
  • File size: 450 KB

Read an Excerpt


Bexington Hall
Weymouth, Dorset
1858

The library was my sanctuary, my refuge. It was always quiet there. So quiet that the click of the door opening and closing, then the hiss of footfalls on the plush Turkey carpet, sounded as loud as artillery fire in my consciousness.

Who had come to invade my solitude? I half rose from my seat, set aside the stocking I was darning and peered over the scrolling ironwork of the gallery railing. The interloper was stretched out in a wingback chair drawn at right angles to the fireplace, his booted feet propped up on the brass fender. I didn't have to see his face to know who it was.

Lord Alfred Frederick Leopold Wraxhall. Second son of the Marquess of Dorchester. The wastrel younger brother who'd never done a lick of work in his life and would never amount to anything, at least if one listened to his parents.

While his given name was Alfred, he'd always been known as Leo.

Cousin Leo to me, but not my cousin. Not my anything.

I'd met him for the first time on my wedding day, when he and his siblings had been introduced as my new cousins. I'd been all of twenty, in awe of my husband's grand relations; Leo had been a boy of fifteen, just beginning to grow into the man he would become.

Then as now, he lived in his brother's shadow. Arthur, so fair and noble and perfect in every way. Arthur, the apple of his parents' eye, the brother who never failed to please them, who always conformed, who always behaved. Who looked at me as if I were something he'd scraped off the sole of his boot.

Leo, on the other hand, was interesting. He was intelligent and funny and always had a kind word for everyone. He had beautiful golden-brown hair that curled when he let it grow too long, was half a head taller than his brother, had not an ounce of fat on his fit, lean body and had a dimple in one cheek when he smiled, which was often.

He also drank too much and gambled too much, raced his horses where he oughtn't and consorted with the wrong sort of women. He'd left university after only two terms, refused to buy a commission in any of the fashionable regiments, and fell asleep on those rare occasions when he could be convinced to attend church. He was, predictably, the despair of his family.

I'd watched him for years, had been half in love with him for nearly that long. But he'd never seemed to see me, not properly. If I were in the room, his gaze always seemed to slide past me, as if I were a mere shadow. Or a nonentity, which in truth I was. Why should he pay me the slightest wisp of attention, after all? Dissolute and profligate he might well be, but he was still the son of a marquess—while I was the plain, poor, insignificant widow of his cousin.

If only Charles hadn't been so deeply in debt when he died. If only my parents had been living. If only I'd had somewhere else to go, or some friend who might have helped. But there had been no one, and after Charles's debts had been settled, I'd been left with nothing. So I'd gone to Lady Dorchester and begged for help.

She was a kind woman, had even instructed that I call her Aunt Augusta. But I received no wages for my work as her lady's companion, nothing apart from my room and board. I was beneath her, dependent for every crumb that passed my lips. She knew it, and I knew it. I didn't hate her for it—I was grateful, truly I was—but it galled me.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 21 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(5)

4 Star

(8)

3 Star

(5)

2 Star

(2)

1 Star

(1)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 21 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 4, 2012

    Hannah happens to be at the wrong place at the wrong time, or is

    Hannah happens to be at the wrong place at the wrong time, or is it? When she sees her cousin-by-marriage having sex with one of the maids she finds herself curious. She never knew sex could be like what she is watching. As a widow she has had little experience, and those experiences were lacking to say the least, so when Leo offers to show her that sex is enjoyable for both people involved she can not do anything but offer her body to the experience.

    This is a short story (about 70 pages) set in a historical time period when stations mattered and a proper gentleman should not consort with a ladies companion. Hannah is naive beyond belief. I am really not sure anyone could be so naive about their own body but Hannah is written to be. Leo is an enjoyable character. He is written as if he is showing Hannah how to paint, “now put that there and this here”, but somehow it works. It is an interesting story and well written for a first book. The ending was written more on the romance side than the erotica side, which the beginning of the book felt more like erotica. The book is a nice short story. It will only take an hour or so to read and it is well worth that time.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 15, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Widowed Hannah, who serves a distant family member as a lady's m

    Widowed Hannah, who serves a distant family member as a lady's maid, is in the family library working on something and since she wishes to remain alone, hides when she hears someone enter the room. She is both mortified and titillated to witness Leo, the youngest son, having a sexual encounter with a housemaid. Turns out, Leo knew she was there and approaches her with a proposition.

    While the premise is a bit salacious, Improper Relations ends up being a sweet, albeit short, love story. What starts out as a learning experience for Hannah blooms into a romantic and emotional relationship for both Hannah and Leo. As with any romance, there are obstacles, and the roadblocks in this story necessitate a tissue or two.

    The ending was a bit too pat and the resolution was handled much too quickly, but other than that, this was a really enjoyable story, and I'll probably add it to my keeper folder to reread when I need a certain kind of HEA.

    I am reviewing a copy of Improper Relations provided to me by NetGalley.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 2, 2014

    The first book in Juliana Ross' Improper series, and also her de

    The first book in Juliana Ross' Improper series, and also her debut.
    This story is told entirely in the first person, a point of view I very much enjoy but one that you don’t often see in historical romance. It’s like a breath of fresh air. The drawback—but I don’t think it is one in this case— is that you only get the heroine’s thoughts.
    Hannah is a sheltered poor relation, a widow living with her late husband’s extended family, who are cousins, including Leo, the second son of a marquess. Leo has a bad reputation as a gambler, drinker, and womanizer and they have let Hannah stay on with them after her husband dies. She becomes a companion to Leo’s mother and spends her lonely days mending and reading to his mother, a monotonous but stable life.
    “The hours that passed were interminable. Correspondence, mending, luncheon, a walk through the gardens, more correspondence, more mending.” (p95)
    But Leo is not quite all that he seems. He does have a secret life that he keeps hidden from his family, but it isn’t at all what they (or Hannah) believe.
    When Leo catches her spying on his encounter with the maid, they have a very unorthodox and interesting conversation about what she has seen and he encourages her to ask questions. At first, she is shocked and nervous but her curiosity gets the better of her. Her ignorance about her own body and sex are appalling, but likely common for some women of her time. Soon Leo is initiating her into the world of pleasure to their mutual benefit.
    But, of course, she loses her heart. And so does he.
    There is a lovely little Jane Austen moment when Hannah travels to Steventon, in hopes of building a new life.
    I admit that even I anticipated Leo to be a complete scoundrel but this novella completely and delightfully debunks that notion.
    I really like how the author depicts Hannah’s life (especially when she leaves Dorset) as hopeful rather than hopeless. I got the feeling that, even if there is no Leo, Hannah will be all right.
    A quietly understated yet affecting story. Give Juliana Ross a try if you enjoy Sabrina Darby, Catherine Gayle, and Kate McKinley, some of my favorite writers for beautifully written historical erotic romance.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 22, 2014

    Why do people insist on telling the story in their reviews of th

    Why do people insist on telling the story in their reviews of the book??  It spoils it for those of us who haven't read it!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 25, 2013

    Wow

    Wow, this novella was really good! It was sexy and romantic. Had a very surprising HEA! I thoroughly enjoyed and it will be a keeper to read again! Highly Recommend!

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  • Posted August 26, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    This was a fun short story featuring Hannah and Leo. Hannah had

    This was a fun short story featuring Hannah and Leo. Hannah had been
    taught that a wife's duty was basically to just tolerate her husband.
    She had never experienced any personal pleasure from sex and didn't even
    know it was possible. When Leo offers to teach her a thing or two, she
    realizes she wants to know everything. This was a quick, easy read
    told from Hannah's point of view. The story flowed smoothly, the
    characters were likable, and the sex scenes were sensual. I think the
    author did a great job with the setting descriptions and the vocabulary
    of the characters, making them seem real to the time era. I also liked
    the timeframe of the story. Rather than having everything happen in a
    few short days, it was drawn out so their relationship was able to
    develop over time; not an easy thing to do in a novella. Overall, I
    enjoyed this story and will be looking for more from this author.

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  • Posted July 4, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Steamy and fun, this wasn't a bad effort for a first story. It

    Steamy and fun, this wasn't a bad effort for a first story. It had the usual novella issues--not quite enough space for really good character and story development--though, honestly, it actually had more of both than some that I've read; impressive for a first time author. Its story was decent--a nice little Cinderella-style theme. The ending tied everything up just a smidge too neatly, though, even for a romance; but still, it was enjoyable. I'll definitely keep an eye out for future efforts from this author. In all, it was a short, enjoyable read.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 14, 2012

    Sweet, Romantic & Sensual

    Juliana Ross' historical erotic novella Improper Relations is the perfect read for those who enjoy the genre and need a quick fix when short on time. This tantalizing story from the debut author will have your toes curling and cheeks blushing from all the steamy improper relations our hero and heroine get themselves tangled in.

    Improper Relations begins with our heroine, Hannah, witnessing her late husband's cousin, Leo, tête-à-têtes with a maid in the home library. Curious and intrigued, Hannah elects to stay hidden and continue watching Leo and the maids romp in the library. As soon as Leo is finished with the maid, he calls for Hannah to come out of hiding. When Leo asks Hannah why she stayed and watched instead of running out of the room, she confesses that she was fascinated at how the maid had enjoyed having sex with him and never knew that it could be like that for women. Leo informs her that the act of lovemaking is something that both men and women could enjoy. Leo proposes that he could show Hannah exactly what he's talking about and let her experience the pleasures of lovemaking that she never did while she was married. Curious and eager to learn, Hannah agrees to get schooled in the art of sex by cousin Leo.

    Over the course of the next few weeks, Leo shows Hannah how to be comfortable with her sexuality and for once enjoy being pleasured and pleasuring her partner. Since the story is told from Hannah's point of view, we really don't see the progress of Leo's romantic feelings for Hannah but after spending a few intimate times with Leo, Hannah develops feelings for Leo. Hannah had previously admitted that she had always been attracted to Leo but since he was younger and related to her husband, she could only keep those feelings to herself. Even though she's been working for her Aunt for free over the last few years, Hannah feels indebted to her after taking in a penniless widow and resolves to not expect her "relationship" with Leo to go any further.

    Hannah was a likeable character. I admired her curiosity, eagerness and willing to learn from Leo no matter how improper their relations may be. In a time where women were expected to submit to their husband's needs, Hannah took it upon herself to discover the wonderful pleasure a man and woman could experience together. Leo was a great teacher and lover. He was blunt with the language he used with Hannah to teach her about sex but at the same time was tender and patient. Being the second son of a wealthy family, I was surprised about how secretly successful he was and just wasn't mischievous and unsuccessful son others had assumed him to be.

    Although I felt that the ending was a bit rushed and would have enjoyed further character development (which I had expected since it is such a shortt story) I really enjoyed this novella. It was sweet, romantic, sensual and I was pleased with the happily ever after ending. Juliana Ross is a promising author and I look forward to reading a full-pledge romance novel from her in the future.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 14, 2012

    Wish it were longer!

    I have been a regency fan since my teens so it takes a really special book to make me go "wow." I think the combo of first person historical & very sexy setup worked v well for me-- it was different & unique. I adored the wildly romantic ending & felt it made the sex sweeter.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 27, 2012

    Pretty darn good!

    Not a big fan of the romances that are not contemporary, but this one mixes erotica and romance with a pretty good story. I recommend this book.

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  • Posted May 24, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Grade: B or 4 stars…An erotic historical romance by promi

    Grade: B or 4 stars…An erotic historical romance by promising debut author!

    Dorset, 1858

    Widowed Hannah Bell lives in the shadows with her late husband’s relatives. She is the poor relation dependent on the charity of Lady Dorchester, and Hannah is her unpaid lady’s companion. Her daily life is monotonous and drab. The only thing that has ever shined is the presence of her husband’s wastrel cousin.

    Hannah has admired Cousin Leo from afar. He is funny, intelligent, and always has a kind word. Yet, he doesn’t see her. One day Hannah spies a tryst between Leo and a maid. What she witnesses challenges the repressive Victorian notions taught by her mother and reinforced by her late husband. Imagine seeing a woman who enjoys sex! When Leo offers to educate her with erotic lessons she makes a decision that will change her life.

    My Thoughts
    I was hoping for a steamy tale with a good story. What I got was a compelling heroine, along with sexy love scenes. This could have easily been a basic erotic tale of a woman learning the pleasures of sex; instead, Hannah is a heroine empowered by her sexuality. Before her lessons, she’s been partially in love with Leo. She feels no shame in what they do. She is a woman who weighs the risks and chooses not to be invisible anymore.

    Since the story is written from Hannah’s point-of view, Leo’s character is a bit mysterious. His motivation is left to interpretation, which I had no troubles filling in. Hannah and Leo’s affair spans enough time where I assumed they had meaningful conversations, although one or two scenes would have been nice. Improper Relations conveys the heroine’s excitement, joy, and realistic attitude toward her situation. Hannah is likeable and I cheered for her happy ending.

    Juliana Ross has studied British social history and she adequately demonstrates the repressive attitudes during the Victorian era in this short story. I encourage other readers to try her. Improper Relations is fifty-eight pages in length, offering a nice sample of her work. I anticipate more steamy romances by this author.


    Memorable Moment

    ”But why? Why me? You’ve never so much as said hello, not once in all the years I’ve lived here.”

    “For that I beg your pardon. If I wounded your feelings, I’m sorry. But my parents would have noticed, had I paid you the slightest heed. Had I so much as looked in your direction.”

    “I know myself, Cousin Leo. I’m not so easy to tempt. I would not have been easy to seduce.”

    “Then what is this?” he demanded. “Why do you linger, if my proposal doesn’t tempt you.”

    Did I speak the truth? I wasn’t sure, at that moment, if I knew. I only knew that he was looking at me, properly seeing me, as no one had done in all the years I’d been part of the Dorchester household.



    This ebook was generously provided by Carina Press via Netgalley.

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  • Posted May 9, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    This is a good, somewhat heated, read set in 1870's Victorian En

    This is a good, somewhat heated, read set in 1870's Victorian England. A poor relation untutored in love and sex, despite being a widow, embraces her curiosity and engages in an affair with her late husband's rakish cousin. It's a pleasing read written in first person point-of-view that has a happy ending. I recommend it, although some reader's could find some of the erotic language offensive.

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    Posted March 11, 2013

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