The Perfect Lover (Cynster Series)

( 79 )


Never let it be said that a Cynster male can't face up to the one unassailable truth: A successful marriage gives life its fullest meaning. To all of English society, Simon Frederick Cynster has a perfect life—one of enormous wealth and impeccable social status. His lean handsomeness turns the heads of naïve debutantes, while his sensual allure ensures he never lacks for more sophisticated partners for a night, or more, of pleasure. Yet despite all of this, Simon knows that ...

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Never let it be said that a Cynster male can't face up to the one unassailable truth: A successful marriage gives life its fullest meaning. To all of English society, Simon Frederick Cynster has a perfect life—one of enormous wealth and impeccable social status. His lean handsomeness turns the heads of naïve debutantes, while his sensual allure ensures he never lacks for more sophisticated partners for a night, or more, of pleasure. Yet despite all of this, Simon knows that there is something—or rather someone—missing in his life.

To achieve true contentment, Simon must find a lady accomplished enough to be his wife, someone who will spend her days as a member of one of England's most influential families ... and her nights pursuing duties of a more private—and personal—nature.

But Simon knows what to expect if he reveals his intention to choose a bride; nothing could be more tiresome than having every blushing miss on the marriage mart thrust upon him. So he discreetly begins his search at a house party at Glossup Hall . . . and is astonished that the lady who immediately captures his interest is Portia Ashford.

Simon has never considered Portia as a potential wife. He's known the raven-haired beauty since childhood; she's willfully independent and has always claimed to be uninterested in marriage. But an unexpectedly heated kiss abruptly alters the rules of their decade-long interaction. Soon they begin to long for the moments they can spend in each other's arms.

But all is not as it seems at Glossup Hall. As Simon and Portia begin to explore the depths of their mutual passion, a shocking murder is committed ... and it appears that the next victim will be Portia herself. And even more shocking than the fact that a murderer secretly walks among them is the realization that all of Simon's considerable strength and influence may not be enough to protect Portia—his once and always perfect lover . . .

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
In this captivating historical romance about Stephanie Laurens's intriguing Cynster family, an unexpectedly perilous house party is the setting for an equally unexpected love match between Simon Cynster and Portia Ashford. Simon has known Portia for ages, and his natural protectiveness toward her has always encouraged her defiance. Their clashes have only gotten worse since his sister wed her brother (in On a Wicked Dawn). But, when Portia decides it's time for her to explore the passions that inspire men and women to marry, she needs a tutor who is both discreet and accomplished. Despite Simon's rakish reputation, she knows she can trust him absolutely…if she can persuade him to go along with her wild plan. What she doesn't know is that Simon has also decided it's time to marry, and he's prepared to employ all his seductive wiles to persuade Portia to become not just his paramour but also his wife. In a family known for bold warriors and passionate lovers, Simon Cynster is about to prove himself The Perfect Lover. This volume also includes a teaser chapter for Laurens's exciting Bastion Club series, scheduled to debut in the fall of 2003. Sue Stone
Publishers Weekly
A genteel party in England in 1835 becomes the setting for romance and a dash of violence as prolific romance author Laurens (On a Wicked Dawn) makes her hardcover debut, the 10th entry in a series about the arrogant Cynster males. Portia Ashford has one goal in mind as she accompanies her eccentric mentor, Lady Osbaldestone, to Glossup Hall in Dorset. Portia wants children, and has reluctantly accepted that she must marry in order to have them. She is determined to learn as much as possible about men, with an eye to choosing one. Also seeking a spouse at the gathering is a man whom she's detested since childhood, the self-satisfied Simon Cynster. He playfully tutors her on the subject of men while hiding his true intent, and he soon progresses far beyond the bounds of propriety. Portia plays along, unconcerned about pregnancy or social ostracism. When they're not thus frolicking, the couple glower disapprovingly at their married hostess, Kitty Glossup, who flings herself at male guests and a gardener or two. Half way through the book, Portia stumbles over Kitty's corpse and finds that she, too, is a target. Simon and Portia help a police inspector plan a scheme that causes further jeopardy for Portia, then a rousing conclusion and matrimonial bliss-no surprise, given there was never any serious obstacle between the young lovers. As with Laurens's earlier titles, the generous doses of erotica will appeal to devotees of romantic suspense. 7-city author tour. (Feb.) Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
In the latest Cynster tale, carefree Simon Cynster and his nemesis, Portia Ashford, suddenly realize that they are made for each other, but this happy discovery is wrecked by a murderous stalker. With a one-day laydown on February 4, 2003. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060505721
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 2/24/2004
  • Series: Cynster Series
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reissue
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 253,084
  • Product dimensions: 4.18 (w) x 6.75 (h) x 1.04 (d)

Meet the Author

Stephanie Laurens

New York Times bestselling author Stephanie Laurens began writing as an escape from the dry world of professional science, a hobby that quickly became a career. Her novels set in Regency England have captivated readers around the globe, making her one of the romance world's most beloved and popular authors. Loving Rose is her fifty-fourth book. All of her previous works remain in print and readily available.

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Table of Contents

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First Chapter

The Perfect Lover

Chapter One

Late July, 1835.
Near Glossup Hall, by Ashmore, Dorset.

"Hell and the devil!" Simon Cynster reined in his bays, his eyes narrowing on the ridge high above Ashmore village. The village proper lay just behind him; he was headed for Glossup Hall, a mile farther along the leafy country lane.

At the rear of the village cottages, the land rose steeply; a woman was following the path winding up the berm of what Simon knew to be ancient earthworks. The views from the top reached as far as the Solent, and on clear days even to the Isle of Wight.

It was hardly a surprise to see someone heading up there.

"No surprise she hasn't anyone with her, either." Irritation mounting, he watched the dark-haired, willowy, ineffably graceful figure steadily ascend the rise, a long-legged figure that inevitably drew the eye of any man with blood in his veins. He'd recognized her instantly -- Portia Ashford, his sister Amelia's sister-in-law.

Portia must be attending the Glossup Hall house party; the Hall was the only major house near enough from which to walk.

A sense of being imposed upon burgeoned and grew.

"Damn!" He'd yielded to the entreaties of his longtime friend James Glossup and agreed to stop by on his way to Somerset to support James through the trials of the house party. But if Portia was going to be present, he'd have trials enough of his own.

She reached the crest of the earthworks and paused, one slender hand rising to hold back the fall of her jet-black hair; lifting her face to the breeze, she stared into the distance, then, letting her hand fall, gracefully walked on, following the path to the lookout, gradually descending until she disappeared from sight.

She's no business of mine.

The words echoed in his head; God knew she'd stated the sentiment often enough, in various phrasings, most far more emphatic. Portia was not his sister, not his cousin; indeed, she shared no blood at all.

Jaw firming, he looked to his horses, took up the slack in the reins --

And inwardly cursed.

"Wilks -- wake up, man!" Simon tossed the reins at his groom, until then dozing behind him. Pulling on the brake, he stepped down to the road. "Just hold them -- I'll be back."

Thrusting his hands into his greatcoat pockets, he strode for the narrow path that led upward, ultimately joining the path from the Hall that Portia had followed up the rise.

He was only buying himself trouble -- a sniping match at the very least -- yet leaving her alone, unprotected from any wastrel who might happen along, was simply not possible, not for him. If he'd driven on, he wouldn't have had a moment's peace, not until she returned safe and sound to the Hall.

Given her propensity for rambling walks, that might not happen for hours.

He wouldn't be thanked for his concern. If he survived without having his ego prodded in a dozen uncomfortable places, he'd count himself lucky. Portia had a tongue like a double-edged razor -- no way one could escape being nicked. He knew perfectly well what her attitude would be when he caught up with her -- precisely the same as it had been for the past decade, ever since he'd realized she truly had no idea of the prize she was, the temptation she posed, and was therefore in need of constant protection from the situations into which she blithely sailed.

While she remained out of his sight, out of his orbit, she was not his responsibility; if she came within it, unprotected, he felt obliged to watch over her, to keep her safe -- he should have known better than to try to fight the urge.

Of all the females he knew, she was unquestionably the most difficult, not least because she was also the most intelligent, yet here he was, trudging after her despite his certain reception; he wasn't at all sure what that said of his intelligence.

Women! He'd spent the entire drive west considering them. His great-aunt Clara had recently died and left him her house in Somerset. The inheritance had served as a catalyst, forcing him to review his life, to rethink his direction, yet his unsettled state had a more fundamental genesis; he'd finally realized what it was that gave his older cousins and his sisters' husbands their purpose in life.

The purpose he lacked.

Family -- their own branch of it, their own children -- their own wife. Such things had never seemed critical before; now they loomed as vital to his life, to his satisfaction with his lot.

A scion of a wealthy, wellborn family, he had a comfortable lot in life, yet what worth comfort against the lack of achievement he now felt so acutely? It wasn't his ability to achieve that was in question -- not in his mind, nor, he'd warrant, in any other -- but the goal, the need, the reason; these were the necessities he lacked.

Crucial necessities for a satisfying life for such as he.

Great-aunt Clara's legacy had been the final prod; what was he to do with a rambling country house if not live in it? He needed to get himself a wife and start building the family he required to give his life its true direction.

He hadn't accepted the notion meekly. For the past ten years, his life had been well run, well ordered, with females intruding in only two arenas, both entirely under his control. With countless discreet liaisons behind him, he was a past master at managing -- seducing, enjoying, and ultimately disengaging from -- the wellborn matrons with whom he habitually dallied. Other than that, the only females he consorted with were those of his own family. Admittedly, within the family, they ruled, but as that had always been the case ...

The Perfect Lover. Copyright © by Stephanie Laurens. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Interviews & Essays

A Letter from Stephanie Laurens
If you love historical romances with dynamic characters, sensual delights, and captivating situations, you won't want to miss The Perfect Lover by New York Times bestselling author Stephanie Laurens -- the latest in a long line of wonderful romances about the wealthy, well-born, powerful Cynster family. Here's what the talented creator of this pedigreed clan has to say about The Perfect Lover, her future plans for the Cynster family, and her Bastion Club series.

Dear Heart to Heart Readers,

I'm delighted to announce the latest addition to the Cynster novels: The Perfect Lover. This book tells the tale of Simon Cynster, the younger brother of the twin sisters I wrote about in the paperback duo On a Wild Night and On a Wicked Dawn. Simon is the youngest male Cynster of the mostly Regency-era "Bar Cynster" generation I've been writing about. Although he was never a member of that notorious crew, Simon is nevertheless a Cynster to his toes. As his bachelor days roll on, he increasingly feels the need to establish his own branch of the family tree. But, to establish a family, he needs a wife….

Fate lends a hand, first in the guise of Simon's recently deceased Great Aunt Clara, who delivers a prod from beyond the grave in the form of property of his own. Her posthumous contribution is abetted in the here-and-now by that terror of the ton, the inimitable Lady Osbaldestone. It's courtesy of her ladyship that Portia Ashford, heretofore the bane of Simon's existence, is present at a house party he has to attend. Wherever Portia and Simon are together, sparks, confusion, and unexpected discoveries are bound to fly.

Compelled, as always, to keep a protective eye on Portia, Simon discovers she's set on embarking on some wild scheme -- one that involves assessing gentlemen, although for what she refuses to tell him. Unknown to Simon, Portia has reached her own emotional watershed. She wants children of her own, and for that she's decided she needs a husband. But she is determined to find a gentleman who won't expect her to be meek, mild, and all the other things she's not. In her typical fashion, she draws up a list and sets out to find a gentleman to meet her exacting standards….

Needless to say, both Simon and Portia find what they are seeking in the one place they'd never thought to look.

Then a murderer strikes, and the house party is plunged into a round of suspicions and revelations. Before Simon and Portia can grasp the future that beckons, they must unmask the killer and prevent him from removing Portia, not just from Simon's arms, but from this world.

While The Perfect Lover completes the stories of the male Cynsters of Simon's generation, there are five female Cynsters whose stories have yet to be told, and five male Cynster-in-laws who need to be accounted for. The next five Cynster novels will tell their stories and offer glimpses of familiar Cynster connections and their young families.

And there's other exciting news! Alternating with those Cynster novels will come novels of a new series. These are stories of another group of gentlemen in Regency England. Finding themselves transformed by circumstance into sitting targets for matchmaking mamas, they form a private club to enable them to select and secure wives of their own choosing. The prologue for the first Bastion Club novel is included in the back of The Perfect Lover. The first book in the series, The Lady Chosen, will be released in the fall of 2003.

Happy Reading,
Stephanie Laurens

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 79 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 81 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 13, 2012

    Stephanie Laurens always spins a good if predictable story. She

    Stephanie Laurens always spins a good if predictable story. She needs to put down her thesaurus though. Interdigitated? Perspicaciousness? Big words aren't bad, but let's stick within the realm of words that are actually used, please.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Fans of the Cynster series will appreciate the tenth tale

    In 1835 though he is wealthy, belongs to a very prominent family, and can score with just about any female he chooses, Simon Frederick Cynster believes it is time to marry. He has no one in mind, but Simon feels that the right loving wife would fill the hole in his soul. However, he also knows he must not announce his intentions to the Ton or he will face an unending queue of wannabe wives. Simon stealthily begins his quest at a house party, but is amazed to find childhood friend Portia Ashford as the best candidate. He becomes further convinced when they share a kiss that stirs his blood. He had never seen Portia in that light, but now all he must do is persuade her that marriage to him will not destroy her vaunted independence. He begins his campaign to win her love while she surprises herself by coveting more of his kisses. However, a murder occurs with the evidence pointing towards Portia probably being the next victim unless Simon can work the Cynster magic and keep his beloved safe. Fans of the Cynster series will appreciate the tenth tale starring a charming couple. The story line contains much of the magic of the previous novels, but that is a two edged sword. The plot is exciting with plenty of intrigue and a fine lead duo, but also tends to leave long time readers having trouble delineating Simon from previous heroes such as Lucifer (see ALL ABOUT LOVE). Still Stephanie Laurens continues to rock readers with her newest strong historical romance, THE PERFECT LOVER. Harriet Klausner

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 30, 2012

    Highly recommended

    You read one of the Cynster series you want to read all of them.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 27, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A must read, enjoyed it greatly!

    Review by Bri:
    The Perfect Lover was a book I thoroughly enjoyed. Having read all the previous Cynster novels by Mrs. Laurens, this one didn't let me down in the least. While the overall formula of rake must fight his own fears of love and convince the girl to marry him was there, the characters made it decisively different.

    Portia Ashford and Simon Cynster, the last available Cynster, have been friends since birth. Both intelligent, prideful and stubborn they have played the games of dueling tongues for a decade. While Simon has a reputation for being, a rake and Portia a woman against marriage, choosing to spend her time on personal endeavors instead of trolling the ton that is until work in an orphanage helps her see the desire of family.

    Attending Lady O, a character I always loved, a saucy, wise, revered woman of the ton, Portia decides to test her husband assessing abilities at a country party. Simon a family friends just happens to be attending at the same time. As sparks fly, and Simon always the protector, assumes his role only motivated in a different way murder and fear threaten Portia before either can decide what they feel.

    Portia was different in this one in that she is extremely independent and intelligent to a fault. Over analyzing everything. Simon on the other hand isn't the domineering conqueror of his previous Cynster sires. Oh the instinct is the there, but having been surrounded strong females Simon's character rightly evolves with those influences and patiently waits for Portia to figure it out.

    A must read, enjoyed it greatly.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 17, 2002

    The Perfect Timing!

    Just finished On A Wild Night and can't wait for The Perfect Lover! I have heard it is incredible. Write faster, Stephanie!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 5, 2014

    Luke to Cathrine

    "Go to hey res2 the imposter is locked out."

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  • Posted March 11, 2014

    Good book and great series!!  Recommend very highly!!

    Good book and great series!!  Recommend very highly!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 29, 2013

    Dier boy


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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 29, 2013

    Saber girl

    Fine she leaves

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 8, 2013


    The best of her books and the best of the Cynster series. Too bad the author could not keep maintaining such excellence. A

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  • Posted March 30, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Lovely From First to last page!!!!

    I own all Stephanie's books . Anyone interested in the historical romance genre would be wise to pick up any and all of her books . I liked watching the grown up Simon Finally catch his mate !!!!

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  • Posted March 29, 2013

    highly recommended

    it was a different type of love store very enjoyable a must read

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 10, 2013

    Not the best

    This book is most surely not the book that you want to post good reviews for, because it is not, the book was terrible I only hate that I payed 99 cents for it so please save your time and money!!!!!!!"

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 24, 2012

    I like it!

    I like it!

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  • Posted February 8, 2011

    Doesn't add or detract from the Cynster Series

    In this historical romance starring Cynster male #10 and his very own reluctant bride-to-be, a should've been delightful party is the setting for the "love" match between Simon Cynster and Portia Ashford. When we met Simon in Book 1 Devil's Bride, he's visibly struggling to deal with his brother's death, dazedly seeking out his powerful cousin, the Duke (Devil) to help him deal, and Devil delivers, gently and patiently and keeps the poor kid calm and focused on the task of "always the gentleman". ("Make your bow.") Now he's all growed up, doing little more than bouncing from bed to bed, but ready for a family of his own. Simon and Portia have known each other awhile, and his tendency to protect rankles her. Her reaction is understandable, considering they're not blood relatives, thereby making what she does or doesn't do, really none of his business. But apparently, he's managed to make an ass of himself, and I'd cuss him out, too. Portia wants babies and realizes that she must be married. Good girl. Add that to Simon's decision to follow in the footsteps of his formidable, older, dreamboaty cousins and it's a Cynster story, ya'll! The hitch in the get-along (besides all the hatin') is that she wants to know what it is that drives men and women to marriage. She needs to be tutored in sex by someone with experience and discretion. Enter Simon. She'll overlook his rake reputation because he's pedigreed after all. The games start. Without informing her of his real interest in her as his wife, he's playing to convince her to get serious and consider him "husband", and she's just playing. So maybe he would be a good husband. But wait, maybe they can just have the baby. Maybe - Baby. Baby - Maybe. Wife or wifey? Wifey or wife? And it goes on and on like this for days. Buffets, servants, butlers, genteel entertainments, men being perfect gentlemen, tiresome page after tiresome page of unromantic sexual interludes. It seems the only time they realize that their negative feelings have changed to NOT love, but concern (and that's what I get from it), is when Portia's in danger. Which brings me to the murder. This, I figure, must be the plot, and as modestly as it's written it's welcome respite from the non-romantic sex. Even as they approached each sexual interlude they'll still hatin' on each other. Unless you count going from deep dislike to deep lust to, somehow, an apparent deep trust, there is no character development, but in spite of that they do get married (hey that's no spoiler! if you've read about one Cynster you've read about the next. they ALL get tired of being single, they ALL meet some woman who doesn't want to get married but they just got to have her, they ALL have some type of murder mystery to solve and they ALL marry that reluctant woman!) You don't get to know, witness, or understand how Simon and Portia get anywhere near an altar. Perplexing development: Portia falls underwater with the murderer who plans to murder her, and Simon, after deciding that she might not like his rescuing her because he thinks that she'd think he was thinking that she can't handle herself, declines to dive in after the "love of his life". Simon waits - and she appreciates his consideration! NaziFeminism lives! Would have served them both right and been one hell of a book had she drowned!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 16, 2004

    Great Book!!!

    This was a great book. I have Read every one of her books and I find that they just keep getting better. If you start at the beginning you learn all of the principals and it makes the stories so much better. I also like her other series.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 19, 2004


    Do not waste your time with this book. Any of the other cynster novels are a good read, but this one was simply painful. I couldn't even finish it. If you want really good romance read anything by Lisa Kleypas, Mary Baloush, or earlier Stephanie Laurens.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 23, 2004

    Finished-but was difficult to do

    This is the third book I have read by this author. I read the two Bastion Club books and truly enjoyed them. However, this one had way too much sex in it as well as repeating the same message/thoughts of the principals over and over again. I love romance novels but I think readers need to be intrigued with more than sex. The mystery came way too late in the book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2004

    Couldn't finish it.

    I couldn't finish this book. I've read some other books of this author before and although I didn't think they were great at least they were entertaining. What I read of the plot was weak and the heroine was sooo involved with herself that she seemed a caricature. Ms. Laurens put so much effort on trying to make her a complex character that she got lost. Portia jumped on Simon so quickly that there was no time to develop any sexual tension and there was so much sex that it was an anticlimax (pardon the pun). I know some of you feel dissapointed because you read some favorable reviews but know that people from the publisher write good reviews as if they were readers to increase sales. To avoid this, be aware of titles with only one glowing review. If you're not sure wait and see for others to review it or join a chat room where people read romance novels and ask there (you could always ask me and I will tell you what I think if I read it). We all have different tastes so a book that might seem great to you might be awful for somebody else but most people agree when a book is garbage (like this one).

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2003

    My first read by this author

    This is my first book by this author. I decided not to read any further until I read the other reviews. She writes well. Dialoque, humor, etc. but I felt it was just so much sex, not enough character depth. The sex went on and on. I really didn't like it. I did like some of the characters, Lady O. Because of the previous review, I will try one more of her Cynster novels hoping for more depth of plot, love and romance, and feeling.

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