Newly widowed, Caroline Boothroyd passes her days writing a guide for young wives daunted by their housewifely duties. She takes it to publisher Thomas Cathcart-Ross, who makes the outrageous suggestion that Caroline should instead tackle the subject of marital relations—and, even more shocking, that she should tell women that sex with their husbands can be pleasurable and not a shameful necessity.
Tom's sisters were sent into marriage naive and unworldly. He's willing to risk scandal to help women like them, and Caroline's writing talent provides the means. Remembering her own newlywed nerves, she agrees, despite fears for her reputation.
As Caroline thinks back on her own sexual awakening, she cannot help imagining a sensual future with her compelling publisher. Tom makes her want to write a second chapter of her sexual life. But lust could lead to love, and Caroline never wishes to feel heartbreak again.
Caroline has written a household guide book, but, when she takes it to her publisher, he suggests a more intimate guide of married life might be more useful to his readers. The two must then, obviously, test out the veracity of the more salacious chapters.
I like that both Tom and Caroline have radical opinions from the start, and are unapologetic about them all the way through. I found both pretty easy to relate to, though initially I struggled to feel their connection between each other, I was nonetheless drawn in by their story. Caroline's feelings of frustration at her publisher's vague notes on her initial chapters particularly made me laugh, and I wondered whether the author had experienced some similar frustration at some point.
Caroline is in mourning for her husband, who has been dead for less than a year, and, I admit, I struggled a little to feel the strength of her emotional intimacy with Tom until quite near the end of the story, with the knowledge of her recent happy marriage and the loss of her loving husband so close to my mind. Tom has also known loss, however, and I liked that the remembrance of their past loves is an important part of their intimate connection.
While Tom is unable to express his emotional adoration for Caroline for the majority of the story, he's more than capable of being blunt about both her manuscript and what he wants in the bedroom. He's even more blunt about Caroline's own need for sexual pleasure. He's a wonderfully unkempt, naughty workaholic. Because, it's all for the sake of their work and guide book, right?
It was a while ago that I read the second of The Improper Series (Improper Arrangements), and while I remember it being a steamy read, I don't recall it being quite as erotic as this one. Oh, my. It's no surprise that writing a guide to the intimacies of married life might evoke some fairly blush inducing conversations with one's publisher, but Tom and Caroline really do take their editorial 'discussions' to the next level. The practical nature of these meetings is all in the name of research, though, so who can complain? *snort* I loved it.
Despite the slow emotional start, I was as enthralled by Tom and Caroline's explorations, as much as I was amused by their excuses to make their affair possible.
Somewhat aside from the story, I really appreciated the author's note at the end about the history of both ladies' guides and sex guides, and I have added both The Short Life and Long Times of Mrs. Beeton by Kathryn Hughes and The Victorian Guide to Sex: Desire and deviance in the 19th century by Fern Riddell to my wish list on Juliana Ross' recommendation. Yay! More books...
Improper Proposals by Juliana Ross is a sexy read that is perfect for those wanting a quick hit of raunchy Victorians.
Improper Proposals by Juliana Ross is a historical romance, released by Carina on March 24, 2014.
Find this book at: Amazon | The Publisher | Goodreads
More from Juliana Ross on Love Reading Romance:
Improper Arrangements by Juliana Ross - Book Review
Improper Arrangements by Juliana Ross - Book Excerpt