Vexing the Viscount is a reunion romance where the heroine and the hero knew each once upon a time when they were children. The heroine annoyed the hero back then and when they meet again years later the hero is still perturbed by the fair miss. This is the third book I have read by Emily Bryan and her lighthearted historicals have been enjoyable reads. I found Vexing the Viscount to be another fun read but with some faults. Perhaps a bit silly and unbelievable at certain points, but overall this is for those who are in need of some light and fluffy reading.
Daisy Drake is a woman who enjoys reading ancient texts. She is what we would call a blue-stocking. Daisy made her first appearance as one of the young nieces of Gabriel Drake, the hero pirate in Pleasuring the Pirate. Daisy is very unique because she prefers to lose herself in libraries and search for lost treasure. Daisy would love to join the Society of Antiquaries, but because she is a woman and it is very much a group only for men, she is denied membership. That still doesn’t stop Daisy from visiting the Antiquaries building where she looks at priceless works of phallic art. Yup, Daisy has no problems inquiring about clay objects shaped like penises. While she is staring at a particular phallic looking clay lamp, she meets an old acquaintance, Lucian Beaumont, Viscount Rutland, otherwise known as Iggy to Daisy.
Lucian has no clue who Daisy is at first, and she is a bit miffed even though the last time they saw each other was when she was twelve years old. Daisy knows who Lucian is because Lucian’s father blames Daisy’s Uncle Gabriel for all his financial woes. Lucian has come to the Society to find someone to partner with him and help search for a great Roman treasure that equaled a year’s pay for the entire Roman Legion on the British Isle centuries ago. The Society gentlemen think Lucian is a joke and refuse to help him raise the money needed for the excavation. Lucian’s father is penniless due to a debale years ago, and because of that no one is willing to back Lucian.
Daisy is very interested in helping Lucian with his excavation. When she was a little girl, she discovered a pirate’s booty of Spanish gold beneath her home. That is where her love for treasure hunting started. She is more than willing to help Lucian find the treasure. Daisy has more than enough money because of her family fortune. But the moment Lucian finds out who Daisy is, he refuses.
It is fate that Daisy and Lucian will see each other again. Daisy’s great-aunt Isabella, who was once a famous courtesan, is throwing a masked ball and Daisy will go as Blanche la Tour, a French courtesan whose unpublished memoirs Daisy has found in Isabella’s library. With the help of Daisy’s maid Nanette and some cosmetics, a seductive dress and high heeled shoes, Daisy will be unrecognizable. Lucian attends the same ball and meets “Blanche”. He is enthralled. Lucian has no idea that Daisy is Blanche and Daisy doesn’t tell him because she enjoys the game and doesn’t want Lucian to run away from her. They talk and kiss. Both enjoy their kiss so much, because it is the first passionate kiss they have ever shared with anybody. Daisy and Lucian are both virgins. Lucian doesn’t have the money to court a wife or keep a mistress. He also doesn’t feel comfortable having sex just for the pleasure of it all. He wants the intimacy to mean something special. (Can I just say I adore Lucian at this point?)
Daisy finds Lucian “commendable” with his reasons for remaining a virgin. Lucian thinks Daisy as Blanche is quite skilled in lovemaking and because he is so attracted to her, he wants to become her pupil and teach him those lovemaking skills that have eluded him for so long. Daisy accepts Lucian’s offer. If she becomes Lucian’s teacher, he must allow her to join in on his treasure hunt. He agrees. Daisy is in a very hard place because she lacks these skills. But at least she has Blanche’s memoirs to help her if she needs it.
Lucian is in for a surprise because Blanche sends Daisy to be his partner. Lucian can’t refuse because then he wouldn’t see Blanche and learn about the ways of love. Daisy gets the best of both worlds and hopes Lucian won’t find out that she and Blanche are one in the same. Now this is where the whole situation gets a bit ridiculous. Blanche is staying as a guest of Isabella, and when she invites Lucian into her bedroom, she is dressed in her courtesan wear which includes a mask which she won’t allow Julian to remove. Lucian wants to see the woman behind the mask, but since she won’t, he decides having sex is better than seeing the woman’s face who will allow him to reach heaven. Both may not know what they are doing, but with enough practice they learn very well and enjoy each other to the fullest.
Daisy has put herself in a corner. She is falling for Lucian, but Lucian barely knows she is alive because he is heads over heels in lust with Blanche. He treats Daisy as kid sister. And when Lucian is not going on and on about Blanche, he has to worry about the excavation. Someone wants what Lucian is searching for and won’t rest till they get it, even if it means sabotaging Lucian and causing harm to those around him, which of course means Daisy.
I have to admit that the whole plot with Daisy pretending to be Blanche was a bit silly. Daisy acting as Blanche had great chemistry with Lucian, but I was surprised he allowed her to keep the mask on the whole time. If I were in Julian’s shoes, I would have put a halt to everything even if I was about to “become a man” in her arms. And Daisy is one of those heroines who seems to learn all her moves in the literature she reads. The first time between these two, who have no experience what so ever make love, it was a bit too perfect. At least the mystery of Blanche didn’t go on for too long. And when Daisy’s mask came off, things progressed very nicely between the lovers.
Vexing The Viscount has some cute moments and I did like how independent Daisy was. She didn’t run home in tears because something didn’t go her way. Her character was a bit too naïve at times but because she has a very unique personality, she wasn’t too annoying. I found her to be quiet endearing. Lucian also has a bit of an innocence to him and I couldn’t help thinking that these two were perfect for one another because of this. Their love scenes are very playful and passionate and shouldn’t disappoint readers.
The search for the treasure and the suspense dealing with Lucian’s enemy isn’t all that thrilling where you will be on the edge of your seat. I found it to be more filler if anything and the moments I enjoyed most of all were when Lucian and Daisy loved one another and willingly expressed it. Once they found how much fun sex was, they didn’t want to stop.
If you are in the mood for a fast lighthearted read, Vexing the Viscount is the book for you. (Dorchester, March)
Final Grade: B-