I must confess that I find stepbrother-stepsister and first cousin romances a bit squicky, so I started reading Sophie Jordan’s latest prepared to fling my paperback at the first sign of awkward we-shouldn’t-be-doing-this love-making. Fortunately, Jordan knows how to make a keeping-it-in-family romance work!

Rosalie Hughes has been summarily dumped on her stepbrother’s doorstep after overstaying her welcome at finishing school for 2 years and never hearing a word from her philandering mother (who’s likely touring Europe with a string of young lovers). Declan, the Duke of Banbury, is livin’ it up in London as only a rake can and has no interest in sheltering a stepsister he hasn’t seen in 10 years. To get rid of her as quickly as possible he gives her a ridiculously large dowry and the social guidance of his aunt and cousin.

Needless to say, Rosalie and Declan have some HISTORY y’all. There’s an emotional connection that’s about as strong as that tight-in-the-breeches feeling Declan is having for Rosalie. Throw in some family drama, a visit to a club called Sodom (yup, that kind of club), and Declan’s meddling cousin and you have a recipe for SEXYTIMES + EMOTIONS.

I love a good red-headed heroine, but I wasn’t a huge Rosalie fan. Had it not been for her friendship with Aurelia, who, let’s face it, totally stole the show with her saucy talk and fantastic sense of humor, I think I would have found Rosalie insufferable. (Really, I just want to read more about Aurelia.) I couldn’t stand her whole “I’m going to be bold and visit a sex club” but then be all shocked about people having actual sex when I get there routine. The hidden identity vibe that played out between the two of them was a bit infuriating, but thankfully Jordan resolved that fairly quickly. I never understand books where the hero has sex with a nameless stranger then, after kissing the heroine HAS NO IDEA THEY ARE THE SAME PERSON. Really? You’re such a rake that all tongues are the same? Thankfully, Declan is not that guy.

Oh, and let’s have a moment to reflect on the sexiness of the name Declan.

I feel better now.

Despite her best efforts at keeping the ick at bay, there were still some aspects of the book that will likely start the bile upchuck in more emotionally invested romance readers. Namely, Rosalie’s mom’s assault on 14 year old Declan, Rosalie’s mom’s disgusting young lover, and well, Rosalie’s mom, period. Gross.

Overall this was a fun, sexy read. Bonus: Sophie Jordan’s from Texas, so you know she gets my seal of approval!

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