I jumped into the School of Gallantry series with book 3 and I absolutely loved it. I followed along through the end of the series and am only just now seeing where it all began. I read this as a second edition re-release, which I understand has some differences from the original, so you may want to keep that in mind.
One of the things I really like about this series is that the books all take place in the same period of time. So even though I didn’t start with book one, with all of the events taking place concurrently, I didn’t feel like I missed anything. The series surrounds a special school for gentlemen, run by a former French courtesan. She helps them learn the art of romance and seduction. Each man needs her help for different reasons, but each ends up a hero of his own story. This book not only features one of the students, but the courtesan’s own granddaughter, Maybelle.
Growing up under the shadow of her infamous grandmother, Maybelle has never been accepted by society. She has been exposed to far more than any gently bred lady should be, yet she has never wished to exercise the sexual liberation her grandmother has fostered… until now. When she spies Edmund, the Duke of Rutherford, at a ball, she has finally found a man she actually wants to put her hands upon. She makes the first move, having no idea that Edmund is a man bound to propriety and determined to live as a gentlemen beyond temptation. Maybelle tears his resolve to ribbons.
From their very first encounter, they begin a dysfunctional dance, fueled in parts by unbridled attraction, insecurities, and emotions. There are times this really works. It’s easy to believe in the pull between them. I really felt the way Edmund warred with himself between his desire for Maybelle and his commitment to gentlemanly behavior. I also really understood Maybelle’s pain at her rejection by society and her fear that a relationship with a duke could make her more vulnerable than ever.
There were other times, though, that did not ring as true. Like how Edmund’s behavior turned on a dime, not once, but twice: first when he went from wanting nothing to do with Maybelle to wanting to marry her. Then back again. Or how a story about her grandfather’s lineage could change Maybelle’s entire outlook on the relationship. Or what they did behind a screen at a ball.
Those issues kept me from loving this one entirely –and a couple of typos pulled me out of the story once or twice. But I enjoyed this one overall, largely because I like Delilah Marvelle’s storytelling voice. The sexy times are hot and there are some good romantic moments. Lady of Pleasure is still my favorite in this series, but I am glad I picked this one up.
*Book provided by author for review
Click to purchase: Amazon
Mistress of Pleasure
by Delilah Marvelle
Original Release Date: January 1, 2008
Re-Release Date: July 1, 2015