He’s the talk of the ton for all the wrong reasons!
Society’s most outrageous and popular escort Nicholas D’Arcy is renowned for his utmost discretion. So when he suddenly finds himself named and shamed by a jealous husband, he reluctantly accepts a summons to the countryside a fate worse than death!
Annorah Price-Ellis isn’t what Nick is used to innocent, feisty and decidedly uncomfortable with the spontaneous heat between them! Suddenly, London’s most audacious lover is out of his depth, and in danger of revealing the real man behind the polished façade.
I seem to have read a number of books over the last year in which the hero has been a man who is paid for sexual services, either as a way of making his living, or for some other reason, such as getting the heroine pregnant, as in Cecilia Grant’s A Lady Awakened.
In Secrets of a Gentleman Escort, Nicholas D’Arcy is the former, a man who, for the past few years, has made his living as a high-class, highly paid prostitute. For the most part, he enjoys his life in the hurly-burly of London, although it seems that his job isn’t quite as satisfying as it once was, even though he’s extremely good at it.
Along with a number of other men – some of whom are down-on-their-luck gentlemen of good birth, some of whom are in it for the kicks – Nicholas is a member of the League of Discreet Gentlemen, an agency which provides male companionship mostly to bored wives and widows, for a fat fee. The existence of the League is a rumour in society and nothing more. The husbands of the straying wives may suspect that such a thing exists, but there is no proof and the League’s founder, Channing Deveril, wants to keep it that way. After all, their clientele come to them because they want to have a little fun on the side without being found out; the men involved want to preserve a degree of anonymity – mutual discretion is ensured.
Nicholas is one of the agency’s most sought-after escorts. He’s gorgeous, charming and witty, and – naturally – knows what women want and how to provide it. The trouble is, he provides it too well, and one night is almost caught on the job by a client’s husband. He manages to evade exposure by the skin of his teeth. A jealous husband on the warpath is a threat not only to Nicholas, but to the League’s very existence, so Deveril sends Nicholas on a five-day assignment out of London to give things time to cool off.
But Nick is dismayed. For one thing, he grew up in the country and has too many unhappy memories for him to feel comfortable at spending time away from the city; and for another he feels like he’s being punished for a situation over which he had no control. But he has little alternative other than to accept the job and head off into Sussex post haste.
His client, Miss Annorah Price-Ellis is incredibly wealthy, but will not remain so if she remains unmarried. The terms of her father’s will state that if she is unwed on her thirty-third birthday, the bulk of the fortune she inherited will be given to charitable organizations, allowing Annorah a small property in the north of England and just enough money to live on. Having been relentlessly pursued for her fortune and suffered the humiliation of discovering that the men who expressed an interest in her were just after her money, she eventually withdrew from society, unwilling to risk that sort of hurt and mortification again. Her avaricious aunt repeatedly throws suitors at her, obviously expecting to reap some of the financial rewards should Annorah marry one of them; and time has slipped by, leaving Annorah with Hobson’s Choice. She can marry a man she does not love who just wants her money, or she can eke out a meagre existence far from the home she has lived in all her life.
But before she does either of those things, she has decided it’s time to live a little. Reasoning that, if she’s to give herself to a man she doesn’t know or love, it should be a man of her choosing who will at the very least ensure she finds pleasure in the experience, she writes to the League of Discreet Gentlemen requesting a companion for five nights.
You can read the rest of this review at All About Romance
Also – I think this is one of the loveliest covers I’ve seen recently. Someone over at the We Love Stepback Covers group (I think it was) on GoodReads posted the cover photo a few days back, so I hope they’ll forgive me for stealing it to post here.