Portia St. Claire’s brother has gambled and lost, throwing her into the power of ruthless men. Their price for his life is her virtue, to be auctioned off in London’s most notorious brothel.
To retrieve an incriminating letter, Bryght Malloren once broke into a house where he was greeted at pistol point by a resolute woman–a woman he could swear stands before him, masked and trembling, on a madam’s auction block.
Unable to leave Portia to such a cruel fate, Bryght turns the private wager into a very public game of seduction, one that confirms his reputation as a shameless rake and keeps all of London society breathless with anticipation. But on a night shimmering with destiny, truth, and passion, those who tempt fortune risk losing everything, including their hearts.
Rating: Narration B; Content: B-
Tempting Fortune is the second book in Ms Beverley’s series about the Malloren siblings, all of whom have outlandish names! Our hero here is Lord Arcenbryght Malloren – known as Bryght – who spends much of his time running the family’s many business interests, while also maintaining interests of his own. He has tied up most of his personal wealth in an ambitious canal-building scheme which he believes will bring in hefty profits (as a matter of historical record, it did!) although right now it’s eating up cash like there’s no tomorrow, so he supplements his income by gambling. Fortunately for him, he is skilful and blessed with good luck – and he plans to marry a very rich widow as a back-up plan.
One of the plot threads left over from My Lady Notorious is picked up at the beginning of this book, with Bryght travelling to Kent in order to retrieve a letter written by his former mistress. The letter is located in the Earl of Walgrave’s country house, but the Wares and the Mallorens being enemies, Bryght can’t just turn up, ring the doorbell and ask for it, so he has to break in. He is confronted at pistol-point by the diminutive Portia St. Clair who promptly threatens to shoot him. She’s no match for him, however, and he overwhelms her, finds the letter and departs, but not without – in the best traditions of the hero-turned-housebreaker – a kiss.
Walgrave is an old friend of the St. Clair family, and Portia and her half-brother, Sir Oliver, have approached him for financial assistance. Oliver has a taste for the gambling tables and has managed to lose everything but his shirt, and they hope that Walgrave will fund a mortgage on their estate.
The siblings travel to London to make their request, and while there, they again encounter Bryght Malloren, whose attentions to Portia are marked. But she wants nothing to do with a man who is known to be a high-stakes gambler. Her father ran their estate into the ground because of his addiction to the tables, and now Oliver has incurred further disaster in the same way, so her disdain of Bryght is understandable. Yet she can’t help but be attracted to his handsome face and charming manner. When they hear that the old earl has died and that his son, Fortitude Ware (Fort) is the new earl, they have reason to feel optimistic, as Fort is sure to help them. With that weight off her mind, Portia has more leisure to worry about Oliver, who is still intent on re-building their fortune at the tables. But Oliver doesn’t have the means, the skill or the luck to play and win, and very quickly loses more money than he can pay. Portia is confronted with a terrible choice: allow Oliver to be beaten up by his creditors and then be thrown into debtor’s prison, or obtain the necessary money by auctioning off her virtue. For her, it’s a no-brainer.
You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.