From the Blurb:
There comes a time in a lady's life...
Widowed Anna Wren is having a wretched day. After an arrogant male on horseback nearly squashes her, she arrives home to learn that she is in dire financial straits.
When she must do the unthinkable...
The Earl of Swartingham is in a quandary. Having frightened off two secretaries, Edward de Raaf needs someone who can withstand his bad temper and boorish behavior.
And find employment.
When Anna becomes the earl's secretary, it would seem that both their problems are solved. Then she discovers he plans to visit the most notorious brothel in London for his "manly" needs. Well! Anna sees red—and decides to assuage her "womanly" desires...with the earl as her unknowing lover
Anna Wren is a widow of a not so happy marriage. Her husband died some years ago, leaving her with trust issues and not enough money to care for herself and her mother-in-law, but none of this holds Anna back. Despite ostensibly being a lady, Anna heads off to find work. When none is available in any feminine position as a governess or companion, Anna is not dissuaded, but manages to secure a position as the secretary to the Earl of Swartingham, a man who has managed to scare away his previous two secretaries.
Once the Earl has come to terms with the idea that his new secretary is not only a woman, but also the woman who caused him to be thrown from his horse - he certainly cannot have fallen as she claims - he discovers that there are benefits to having this particular secretary around. Anna is attractive, but more importantly, she doesn't take his nonsense and seems to enjoy putting him in his place. Things inevitably heat up.
Unfortunately, the Earl is already in the process of organising an engagement to be married and he simply cannot continue to lust after his secretary, so he travels into the city to... relieve certain desires at an upmarket brothel. And this is when things take an unexpected turn. Rather than sitting back and waiting for the Earl to return, Anna decides to follow him to the city and dress up as a prostitute!
I will admit that Anna's somewhat wild decisions took me quite by surprise, but as the story develops it does not seem entirely out of character. This is a woman who is sick of being left behind and being treated like garbage. She's ready to take control of her life and what she wants... and she wants the Earl.
I really loved both Anna and Edward (the Earl) as a couple and as their own characters. There is no simpering heroine in this story. Anna is strong and forthright, and that's what makes her so attractive to Edward. In Anna he has finally found his match. What I loved about Edward was that he was a strong alpha character but he still had insecurities that made him endearing and his actions believable. These two characters know they are in love for some time but due to their personal histories they find it hard to connect. By they same token, they're both desperate to make it work. And I really loved experiencing their journey as they tried to find love despite the odds.
One of the odd bits about this story for me was the idea of a brothel where ladies could go and dress up as prostitutes for a bit of mischief. I would love to know if there really were such places or if this is a colourful creation of Elizabeth Hoyt's imagination. Either way, it is a really interesting and fun concept.
This is a wonderful historical romance with great characters and a lot of spice.
I read the Audiobook, so what about the Narrator?
This audiobook was read by Moira Quirk who did a terrific job of capturing Anna and Edwards characters. She had the right accent and tone to pull the listener right into the past, but most importantly, she really captured the sarcasm and wit of the protagonists. I couldn't stop grinning all the way through. It's definitely worth listening to this one.
What about the rest of the series?
This is part of Elizabeth Hoyt's "Prince Trilogy". I haven't read the other two, but I certainly will!
The Raven Prince was published in 2006 by Warner Forever and is available from Audible, Book Depository and Amazon.