Sebastian Malheur is the most dangerous sort of rake: an educated one. When he’s not scandalizing ladies in the bedchamber, he’s outraging proper society with his scientific theories. He’s desired, reviled, acclaimed, and despised—and he laughs through it all.
Violet Waterfield, the widowed Countess of Cambury, on the other hand, is entirely respectable, and she’d like to stay that way. But Violet has a secret that is beyond ruinous, one that ties her irrevocably to England’s most infamous scoundrel: Sebastian’s theories aren’t his. They’re hers.
So when Sebastian threatens to dissolve their years-long conspiracy, she’ll do anything to save their partnership…even if it means opening her vulnerable heart to the rake who could destroy it for good.
I have never met a woman more in need of a mind-blowing orgasm than Violet Waterfield.
This MC was wound so tight that I just wanted to hand her a vibrator and tell her not to come out of her room until she’d rattled that stick out of her ass. Too bad there weren’t any to be had in Victorian England* or the beginning of this book might have been less frustrating.
Violet is a female scientist in a time when even women didn’t think that they should be educated. Instead of publishing her work herself, she has her best friend Sebastian take the credit. They subscribe to Darwinism, and as he lectures about Violet’s theories of evolution and hereditary traits, he’s ridiculed and mocked by respectable society because to believe in science is to worship da debil.
Needless to say, after five years, Sebastian’s become a little tired of being the most hated man in England, and so he quits. His familial relationships are in tatters, he hardly sees his best friends, and he wants to attempt to stitch his life back together. Violet doesn’t give a damn. Instead of being understanding, instead of feeling horrible that he’s become so beaten down by the cruel words of the public, she selfishly attempts to goad him into continuing with their work because she so badly needs to feel accepted and appreciated, even if it’s in a roundabout way.
First, she tries to bribe him into continuing. When that fails, she gets nasty, because after all, he’s a rake, so everything will always boil down to sex with him, right?
“So that’s what this is about,” Violet heard herself say. “You’re annoyed that out of all the women in the world, you can’t make me fall at your feet. Talk all you like about friendship, but clearly, I left the one thing that would convince you off my list.” She raised her chin. “Intercourse. That’s the currency you deal in, isn’t it?”
What. A. Bitch. Way to spend almost every day with someone for five years and learn nothing about them. Way to belittle and insult the ONE person that can stand being around you. And way to completely contradict yourself about the reason that Sebastian must continue to do something that is ruining his life.
“I’ve never needed recognition for myself. Recognition is the last thing I want. It’s just that…awful as it makes me, this is the thing that I do. I wake up thinking about it. I dream of it when I sleep. The thought of doing all this and having it evaporate into nothing is more than I can bear. I want to do something, and have someone notice.”
Wasn’t Freud alive back then? Maybe he could make heads or tails of this woman, because Lord knows I struggled to make sense of the blacksmith’s puzzle that was her mind. She’s so terrified of emotional intimacy that she’s turned herself into stone. No really.
“Stone was firm. Stone was unyielding. Stone didn’t care about the hurt that bloomed in his eyes. Stone persisted; that’s what it did.”
She’s medusa’d herself because if she lets her walls down then people might glimpse how much she hates herself. I can’t even tell you how many times she put herself down. I lost count after a million.
“God she was a hateful woman. A hateful, horrible, selfish woman.”
“Violet had always known that she was fundamentally unlovable.”
“…I’m a worthless woman.”
“At the end of the day she was a selfish, pointless, lying coward.”
And let’s not forget that she’s actually delusional too. You see, people say that she and her sister are almost identical, but she demands that people are stupid because her sister is so gorgeous and she is so hideous. Have I mentioned that I’m sick of the literary trend of women having zero self-confidence until a man finds them attractive? No? Well…
I’M REALLY FUCKING SICK OF THIS TREND.
So why three stars? Because of the storyline. Because by the second half of the novel I began to truly understand why Violet was such a hard person. Because of Sebastian and his complete understanding of her. Because of Sebastian just being Sebastian. Because of how their relationship developed. Because of the progress that Violet made. Unlike soooo many other books that I’ve read, all of these aspects were believable.
If the beginning of this story pisses you off as much as it did me, I urge you to stick with it, because in the end, it’s worth a read.
*Actually, there were vibrators and other such sex toys in Victorian England (thank you, Aly, and your vast knowledge of random historical facts), but after reading up on them, I wouldn’t recommend actually using one.