Published: September 2005 (Avon)
Category: Historical Romance
This is Nathan Oliver's story and the book that came before Never a Lady, which tells his older brother's story. Not Quite a Gentleman has all the things that I love in a historical romance. There's the sassy and smart heroine and the hero who's being driven insane by the things she says and the way he wants her. They wind up engaging in a rather unrealistic affair, being that she's not married and doesn't intend to marry Nathan.
Nathan and Victoria's relationship is all about opening up to each other. She shows him that she's actually smart and more than a hothouse flower who'll wilt at the slightest challenge. In fact, with the guidance of a notorious book called A Ladies' Guide to the Pursuit of Personal Happiness and Intimate Fulfillment, full of information normally unavailable to women of the time. Victoria is most interested in the section about tormenting men, specifically dumping them, as she wants revenge on Nathan for kissing her silly and disappearing from her life right after. She intends to kiss him silly and leave him just as he had done to her. However, she doesn't take into account her reaction to his kisses, and her plan flies out the window.
Three years ago, Lady Victoria Wexhall was humiliated when Nathan Oliver waltzed brazenly out of her life after favoring her with one glorious kiss... her very first! Now, when her father insists she pay a visit to Nathan's family estate in Cornwall, the pampered Society beauty devises a plan to drive the heartless rake mad with desire, then drop him cold. Because the man is a cad - and he will rue the day he trifled with her affections!
But Victoria's plan isn't the only plot that's afoot. Nathan's sworn duty to the Crown has immersed him in a perilous intrigue, and he is certain this infuriatingly tempting lady is somehow involved. Using his winning charm and sensuous allure, Nathan intends to discover the lady's secrets.
And the dashing rogue is bound and determined to prove that, while not quite a gentleman, he is every inch a lover!
Nathan reveals his past to her with refreshing openness and honesty. He tells her about how he used to be a spy but his last mission went wrong, and his own brother and father thought he was a traitor to the country. With Victoria's reappearance into his life, he has a chance to redeem himself and recover the missing jewels that caused his downfall. While searching the estate for the jewels, they shared stories of their childhood that would normally shock polite company. Things like making mud pies or stealing the stablemaster's clothes while he takes his weekly bath in the lake.
Jacquie D'Alessandro really knows how to write romances that are funny, witty, sweet, and steamy all in a perfect little package. Animals often make humorous appearances in her books, and those are always bonus points to me. Nathan, the gentleman doctor, is often paid in animals for his services, and when he goes back to his father's estate to clear his name, he brings his menagerie with him. It includes a cow, pig, goat, several forms of fowl, a kitten, and a dog the size of a small bear, charmingly called "BC," which is short for Boot Chewer.
This was such a lovely book and had so many funny moments, many of which are from characters' inner monologues. Great fun. I've already ordered Love and the Single Heiress, which involves the source of that infamous ladies' guide that Victoria read so ferociously.