Desert Isle Keeper
Forbidden Nights with the Viscount
Forbidden Nights with the Viscount is the first novel by Julia Justiss I have read, and I simply fell in love with the story from the first few pages. Both the characters have complex lives beyond their romantic entanglement with each other. They are passionate about their involvement in politics while respecting and trusting the other person’s contribution and continued desire to work for the betterment of the country. This is very romantic and made me believe in their potential for long-term happiness.
Giles Hadley, Viscount Lyndlington is a rising Member of Parliament and believes strongly in the Reform Bill. He’s a Whig, but his father, the Earl of Telbridge is a dyed in the wool Tory. Giles is known for his powerful oratory in the House of Commons as well as for his meticulous research skills and is known as one of Hadley’s Hellions, a sobriquet he and his three closest friends acquired while studying at Oxford.
Because Giles bears a courtesy title, he is able to be a member of the House of Commons, but when he eventually inherits the earldom, he will have to take his seat in the House of Lords. However, he is extremely reluctant to think about the father from whom he has been bitterly estranged since his early childhood – so much so that he refuses to even think about the land and the people on the estate that are going to be his responsibility one day. His father had cast off his wife and son to live in poverty and Giles can never forgive that.
Lady Margaret Roberts, widowed daughter of the Marquess of Witlow, is a Tory through and through and acts as her father’s political hostess. She believes deeply in the aristocratic responsibility for the welfare of the land and its people, and she’s wary of the radical beliefs espoused by some of the Whigs.
Giles and Margaret meet when they’re both canvassing for their candidates in the Borough of Chellingham. The instant attraction they feel arrests their political goals for the moment and draws them together in conversation. A sudden disturbance in the tenor of the crowd has Giles rushing to her rescue and taking her away to an inn, where their conversation causes them to fall further under each other’s spell.
She was honored to make the acquaintance of a man so esteemed by her father – and awed enough, she forgot his physical allure. But only for an instant. With her next breath, she was once again subsumed in awareness of the powerful attraction he generated. What a combination! she thought dazedly. That intense masculine appeal embodied in a man pursuing a career she admired above all others. And there was something of the wicked about him.
Giles discovers that Margaret is being courted by his vindictive half-brother, George, who’s trying to curry the marquess’ favor. He’s much relieved, however, to discover that Margaret cares not a whit for George, and that George’s effort to poison her mind against Giles has been ineffectual.
In the days following, both of them go about their usual business in a sensual haze. Margaret’s great aunt, the Dowager Countess of Sayleford, plants the insidious idea in her head that as a widow, she can take a lover, so long as she’s discreet and careful. Marriage is out of the question for Margaret since the loss of her beloved husband six years ago, and she’s never had affairs, because she’s been terrified of getting pregnant and having to deal with the consequences. I really liked this latter detail. In too many books, widows indulge in heedless affairs with no thought to the possible consequences, but this book tackles the problem realistically and head-on. But Margaret desperately wants Giles.
Giles Hadley excited her mind as much as he stirred her sense. Oh, to be with a man who burned with ardent purpose, who inspired one with a desire to be with him, not just in bed, but out of it as well!
So one morning in Hyde Park, before prudence has a chance to wrestle with her conscience Margaret blurts out that one cannot depend on the future and so one must seize every opportunity that comes one’s way. Giles is amazed that he has been offered carte blanche by a woman and by such a woman. And they begin a deeply sensual – but unconsummated – affair. Their intimate scenes are creative and underwritten with his concern for not having her run the slightest risk of getting pregnant. “Maggie mine,” he calls her with deep affection and regard. The entire book has been written with such tenderness that that shorthand made me smile every time I read it.
I truly enjoyed seeing Giles and Maggie connect over their desire for each other but more importantly through their thoughts and ideas. They are fearless with each other – unafraid to be clever, passionate, and honest, even if what they say is going to make the other person angry. Doing the right thing for the other person is more important that avoiding causing offense. This is what makes a good relationship great. An attraction that makes them dizzy with longing is the delicious icing on top of this bedrock of the relationship. And while each of them is powerful politically in their own right, together, they’re a powerhouse. Can you just imagine how this Tory married to this Whig will shake up the Lords?
Overall, Forbidden Nights with the Viscount is very smartly written: the prose flows along swiftly with no extraneous words and there’s a big story packed in its short category length. I loved it so much, I can hardly wait to dive into the next two books in the Hadley’s Hellions series: Stolen Encounters with the Duchess and Convenient Proposal to the Lady.