Pocket, Aug 2004, 6.99, 384 pp.
To his surprise, Alexander Black inherits an Earldom, but to him it is more important that he now knows why his late father hated him as Alex was sired by the Prince of Wales not the man he disdainfully called father. He meets with two other illegitimate offspring of the royals, his half-brothers Draker and Byrne and the three musketeers forge the Royal Brotherhood of Bastards.
Alex's reputation as a notorious rake amuses Alex who knows he spent his time mostly at his aunt's house in Portugal receiving beatings from his martinet uncle. Alex seeks a wealthy spouse and chooses Katherine Merivale. After her father's scandalous behavior, Katherine looks for a reputable husband, and she leans towards her childhood friend Sir Sydney Lovelace. Everyone knows they are almost engaged yet Alex courts her with passionate eyes screaming seduction and desire, blackmailing her to dance, and his fiery moonlight kisses enflame her. Still she covets love and respectability, neither of which either of them believes Alex provides her although those kisses have tattooed his heart.
This first of the three Royal Brotherhood tales is an exhilarating Regency romance that simply uses the classic but overused theme of a rake wooing a respectable innocent. The story line is character driven as the romantic triangle Sydney's friend create a fine tale as the poet “competes” with Alex for the hand of the respectable. Vegas bookies would make Sydney the overwhelming favorite until they look how Alex overtly and shamelessly displays his desire for Katherine, which is why Sabrina Jeffries' opener is a strong fun tale.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner