Naughty scenes, bawdy dialogue, and endnotes – yes, it’s the latest Susan Johnson book. I’ve enjoyed a couple of her books before, when the characters have been engaging, and the plot has been fun. Too bad this was not one of those books.
Isabella Leslie has just lost her grandfather, and her greedy uncle plots to take her inheritance by making her marry his son, Fat Harold. Shocked and repulsed, Isabella literally knocks people out of her way and flees into the night, seeking refuge. She finds it at the most exclusive brothel in the city, where Dermott Ramsay, Earl of Bathurst, finds company for his nights of debauchery.
The brothel’s madam, Molly, takes pity on Isabella and together, they come up with a solution: Isabella will take a temporary job at the brothel until she is ruined in the eyes of society and her greedy family. Her other option, finding a lawyer who will stand up to her family, is dismissed because Isabella knows there is no lawyer her family can’t intimidate or get around – or more likely, because that option doesn’t suit the plot. In any case, when Isabella and Dermott meet and sparks fly, they make an agreement for him to be the one who ruins her. By the time Isabella arrives at Dermott’s house, she has been taught every trick in the book, and the sexual olympics begin.
The deaths of his wife and child haunt Dermott and he convinces himself that he can enjoy Isabella for a while and then discard her without looking back. It is, of course, a shock to him when he discovers that he can’t get her out of his mind when he does send her away. Being the mature, sensible pair they are, Dermott and Isabella then engage in a contest to see who can make the other more jealous and parade around the ton with admirers and suitors in tow. Meanwhile, the Leslies haven’t given up their greedy ways and intend to see that Isabella is married, sooner or later, to Fat Harold.
Isabella is all lush golden curls, perfect curves and strong emotions. I could understand why she ends up being one of the most lusty virgins I have ever read about, but she lost me when she fled at a life-or-death moment that called for compassion and the love she claimed to have, instead of the selfishness she exhibited.
Dermott conveniently places his grief over having lost his wife and child aside until he has thoroughly bedded and enjoyed Isabella. Even though he is having tender feelings for her, all of a sudden he is acting strange; then he dismisses her. When she rejects him at a ball, he goes home with another woman. Dermott’s charm, like his grief, was something that I was told about over and over but never really accepted.
Temporary Mistress has plenty of profanity, both in the love scenes and the remainder of the book, and there are the usual number of naughty Susan Johnson trademark scenes, such as the one where Isabella watches Dermott receive oral sex from another woman. As I said before, I have enjoyed previous books by Ms. Johnson, but in Temporary Mistress, what I have come to expect is not there. The naughty scenes have been toned down, the dialogue sounds contrived, and the characters weren’t too likable. Oh well, at least the endnotes remain fascinating.