Title: Shameless

Author: Anne Stuart

Redonk Nutshell: Hardened cynic teams up with roguish rake to take on an infamous secret society

Official Synopsis: A long string of tragic loves haunts Viscount Benedick Francis Alistair Rohan. Cool and cynical, he’s weary of life’s fickle games and wants a prim and proper wife he can ignore while indulging his sensual appetites. Lady Melisande Carstairs is nothing less than a tornado storming into Benedick’s measured life. Possessed of boundless energy and the soul of a reformer, Melisande always conquers, whether it’s saving the souls of soiled doves or seducing the man she’s inconveniently fallen for. When she informs Benedick that his brother’s newly revived Heavenly Host has graduated from simple carnal debauchery to sadistic violence, he’s compelled to investigate, undercover. Under those covers, however, is Melisande herself, playing a dangerous game in the name of justice. And the Heavenly Host has just seen her hand, and more…

Ah, Anne Stuart.  I love me some dark and dangerous romance.  The Rohan series, besides all of them having gloriously beautiful covers, are all dark, sensual, and toeing the edge of scandalous.  Anne Stuart is a master in redeeming the irredeemable hero.

Shameless is the story of Benedick, the older brother of Miranda of Breathless, and his encounter with Lady Melisande Carstairs.  Melisande is a widow, a woman who has taken it upon herself to offer a home to destitute working women.  She more or less runs a halfway house, but somewhat respectable.  Miranda runs into Benedick when she literally pulls one of her girls off of him.  Of course, Benedick is intrigued (once he gets over being irritated).  When stirrings of the rekindling of The Heavenly Host reach Melisande’s ears, and that the secret society’s practices have been bordering on grotestque, she reaches out to Benedick to see if he can’t help shut them down.  Benedick’s family are the forebears of the society, The Rohan family having achieved its scandalous reputation solely from The Heavenly Host’s activities.

The two team up, and in the process of investigating the society’s members they end up falling for each other.  Melisande is frigid and naive, an immediate lure to Benedick’s sensual and adventurous nature.  The chemistry between the two is instant and intense.

Shameless follows the same plot format as its predecessors and is a bit predictable.  Yet, for the love of a good dark hero and some seriously sensual intrigue, it’s worth picking it up regardless.  Anne Stuart remains a master, and Shameless is worth the read.

Rating: C+

Romance: 3/5                Raunch: 3/5

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