A Mistress For Penndrake by Tammy L. Bailey
When offered the chance to earn back his ancestral home, Penndrake, after his father gambled it away, one would have thought Lord Wesley would grasp it with both hands. After all, all he has to do is marry Miss Kate Holden, the new owner's cousin, and Kate is pretty, smart and intriguing. With Penndrake as her dowry, he couldn't do better. It's an honorable way out of a sticky predicament.
If Wesley had been otherwise attached, I could possibly have forgiven him for trying to find a way out of the obligation. Instead, he basically decides that he must have his cake and eat it too: he will make Kate his mistress, blackmail her cousin into handing back Penndrake and then find another bride with a rich dowry. Kate, of course, even though he soon discovers she is quite ignorant of her cousin's plans, is merely collateral damage. At one point she even cries out plaintively that she has done nothing to him, and his only response is that he wants her to suffer as much as he does.
Honestly, I just couldn't get past Wesley being such a selfish, entitled scumbag. Not only that, but he acts like an absolute pig to Kate on any number of occasions. When she has a panic attack in a crowded carriage, has to get out and is obviously feeling queasy and begs to walk, he just orders her to get back in and ride ‘like the rest of us’. It's basically the opposite of gentlemanly, considerate behaviour. And when Kate, who I liked very much for her fierce determination and honesty, drops a truth bomb on him and Wesley realises he's behaving like his despised father, well, one would have thought that might spark some introspection and maybe even an apology. Instead, he forces a kiss on Kate to make her shut up. He handles her roughly any number of times, grabbing her arm and also touching her and repeatedly entering her room uninvited, uncaring of any potential damage to her reputation.
Frankly, Lord Wesley has Abusive Husband written all over him. Whenever anything doesn't go his way, he resorts to blackmail, cheating or violence. He very much does not fit my definition of a romance hero.
While I found few typos, there were some confusing word choices - I'm not at all sure how one eats fruit like a ‘ravished street urchin’, for example - and a few other things that irritated me, such as Lord Wesley’s eyes being described as ‘blue, green and brown’ (yes, all at once). Please either pick one or call them hazel. Otherwise it just reads like the author can't make their mind up.
Considering how horrible I found Lord Wesley and his treatment of Kate, this story does not in any way depict an admirable romantic relationship and I cannot therefore give it more than one star.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for review through NetGalley.