Desert Isle Keeper
Indiscretion is a very lusty farce and an altogether wonderful romance. It’s far more sexual than any of author Jillian Hunter’s books of which I am aware. It also features a fairly daring plot structure, which reveals the hot and heavy past relationship between hero and heroine right at the start. If, as I do, you have a decided preference for humorous romances with a bawdy bent, you ought to love this one.
Our story begins at Court, where Anne, the widowed Lady Whitehaven, and Patrick Sutherland, fifth Viscount Glengramach, have been summoned by the Queen. In detail, Anne reflects upon her past “indiscretions” with Patrick, before she married his stalwart cousin David. Anne remembers their physical attraction, but is determined to hate the man to whom she willingly gave her innocence. In her eyes he is nothing but a bounder. Patrick, unaware of the cruelty Anne’s father subjected her to, and unsure why Anne married his milque-toast cousin, still loves her, and decides he will do anything to win her back. He is willing to go so far as to pretend to be Anne’s butler and accompany her and his Aunt Nellwyn in an investigation of the death of Anne’s uncle at her country estate. And so, this proud war hero and member of the nobility, sets off to win the heart of his beloved, with eccentric Aunt Nellwyn firmly on his side.
Indiscretion revolves around three related plot points. First, Patrick and Anne are to work together to solve the mystery. The first point leads to the second – in order for him to accomplish this, it is decided he can ferret more information if he poses as a butler. Watching these antics will provide a great deal of enjoyment. Patrick’s interactions with the other household staff members are nothing short of brilliant. His interactions with Anne when they are in the presence of others, and in particular, Sir Wallace, a member of the local gentry who has his own designs on Anne, are equally brilliant. Think “English stage farce” and you’ll have some idea. The second point leads to the third – how will Patrick win the heart of Anne and convince her to marry him?
The household staff realize right off the bat that the relationship between Anne and her butler is not kosher. They try to counsel him about his correction station in life. He is told that “it is quite clear” he was “born below-stairs.” Further, he is counseled that “life is like a garden,” and that “some of us are born to be butterflies and some of us are destined to remain worms.” Given that Anne seems unwilling to forgive Patrick their past, he is willing to remain a worm for the time being, but the irony is indeed rich.
When not suffering from “housemaid’s knee,” Patrick continues to woo Anne. The love scenes are incredibly intense and frank; the earthy Scots words for various body parts add to the erotic nature of their love play. While Anne is determined to hold on to her heart, he slowly worms his way into it. By the time the local ladies are swooning apurpose in order to have Patrick carry them to the settee, Anne has realized her fate, even if she refuses to admit it.
The sub-plot surrounding the death of Anne’s uncle – did he die a natural death or was he murdered? – is the weakest part of the book, but one senses it was supposed to be, given its conclusion. The best parts of the book are simply the watching and listening to Anne and Patrick, Anne and Patrick and Nellwyn, Anne and Patrick and Sir Wallace, and, at the very end, Patrick and Sir Wallace.
At times this reviewer feels a sense of guilt over awarding Desert Isle Keeper Status to romps such as this; many readers believe a true keeper must be deep and intense. I too have a number of favorites that are dark, but when a light-hearted book gets almost everything perfect, it deserves its place on the keeper shelf. This one’s headed there now.