Lady Justine is willing to trade her good name, her reputation and her place in London's gossip-hungry ton to secure her father's release from prison. But when the notorious Duke of Bradford counters her offer with a proposal of marriage, the stakes grow higher still. For while the smoldering lord is famous for his conquests, the man is oblivious to both her devotion and her charms. And Justine is soon afraid she has wagered all for naught .
Marvelle (Lord of Pleasure) tackles several heavy topics at once in this overstuffed Regency. While most ladies would swoon, Lady Justine Fedora Palmer grew up in Africa and handles everything with aplomb. When Justine's father, the earl of Marwood, writes about homosexuality in the animal kingdom, he's arrested for promoting indecency. Justine offers herself to Radcliff, the duke of Bradford, if he will secure the earl's freedom. Radcliff suggests marriage instead, hoping it will save him from sex addiction. Even before Justine figures out the extent of his "obsession," she makes him work, wanting his respect before his body. Radcliff and Justine are refreshingly honest with themselves and each other about what they do, think, and feel. Radcliff's brother and his mistress make a mess of the story at times, but Henri, the gay servant, is a delight. (Jan.)