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Short & Sweet Review: Tempting the Bluestocking

Tempting the Bluestocking audiobook cover. A toned, handsome man standing in a bedroom shrugs out of a shirt and jacket to reveal a bare chest. Tempting the Bluestocking by Victoria Vale.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Duration: 4 hrs 14 mins.
🔥Steamy Content!🔥

Tempting the Bluestocking, Gentleman Courtesans Book 0.5, by Victoria Vale is a sultry prequel novella to a devilishly decadent Regency romance series.

Audible Summary: "After her first lackluster experience, Clare Dunnaby swears off romantic entanglement for good. At 21, she remains unattached and content - pursuing the study of botany and geology with single-minded focus. She remains certain she has no need for the amorous attentions of the opposite sex...at least, until she enters her bedchamber to find a nude man waiting in her bed. 

Desperation has driven Edward Norton to accept an arrangement as a courtesan to Clare. Purchased as a surprise for her birthday, his mission seems cut and dry: seduce the outspoken bluestocking into bed with him and keep her happy for the duration of their one-month contract. If he can do that, he’ll earn enough money to set his failing shipping company right again.

But when a strong physical attractions evolves into something more, it becomes clear that 30 days will never be enough. When their time runs out, will they choose to build on the visceral connection born of a contract, or will pride and stubbornness keep them apart?

©2019 Victoria Vale (P)2019 Victoria Vale."

Despite being a prequel this is the second book I've listened to in the Gentlemen Courtesans series, and I enjoyed it just as much as I did Portrait of a Lady. I knew I'd enjoy this audiobook because I like Vale's writing and Tempting the Bluestocking combines some of my favourite Regency tropes; a bookish bluestocking, a colourful Matriarch, and a rakish-but-principled gentleman who comes completely undone when he least expects it. Clare's Aunt Helene was a wonderfully unorthodox, eccentric elder, who delighted in leading her equally-unconventional niece astray at every opportunity, and the confident Clare made a refreshing change from the typical wallflower who usually fills the bluestocking role. Edward Norton was an endearing hero, who was only exploiting his natural charm to save the family business and better the circumstances of his siblings.

Edward's instantaneous desire for Clare - and her appreciation for his well-muscled form - introduced the heated tension between them from the first moments of their meeting, but was equally humorous and passionate thanks to Aunt Helene. I thought that Clare's astonishment at finding a handsome man in her bed was well balanced alongside the lustful confusion with which she greeted him; as Mr Norton certainly sounds to be quite a sight! The intimacy between them was steamy and enticing, finding a good compromise between romance and eroticism, with Edward's perspective front and center.

The narrator, Darcey Stark, was as good here as he was when reading Vale's other books, Portrait of a Lady. and The Damsel. . His performance was sultry and engaging in both the male and female roles, and he is very listenable. I did giggle for the wrong reasons when he pronounced one of the Latin flower names as"lilium super-bum" instead of 'superb-um', but that may be down to a UK/US difference in approaching the scientific names. (I did have a quick look in case I've been embarrassing myself in garden centres, but even if I hadn't found this to support my version, I think I'd be far more embarrassed asking for super-bum lillies than I would be by rising getting it wrong.)

Overall this was a fun, saucy, passionate Regency romance and I wish it had been a full-length story rather than a novella. I'm looking forward to the rest of the series, and to other audiobooks by Victoria Vale.

The other Gentlemen Courtesans books in order, (so far!) are:

Book 0.5 - Tempting the Bluestocking.
Book 1 - Portrait of a Lady.
Book 2 - What a Courtesan Wants.

*I received this audiobook free of charge in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.

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