Once Upon A Romance

Once Upon A Romance's Review Of...
Pleasurably Undone! an Anthology


Cover art: Pleasurably Undone! Reviewer: Robyn Roberts
Title: Pleasurably Undone!
Author: Christine Merrill, Michelle Willingham, Louise Allen, Terri Brisbin, Diane Gaston
Publisher: Harlequin Historical
ISBN-13: 978-0-373-29590-6
Release Date: April 2010
Genre/Sub-genre: Historical Romance
Year/Setting: See each title below
Overall Rating: 4.0
Sexual Content Rating: Sexual
Language (Profanity/Slang) Content Rating: Mild
Violent Content Rating: None
Authors Website/Blogs: www.christine-merrill.com www.michellewillingham.com www.louiseallenregency.co.uk www.terribrisbin.com www.dianegaston.com

Reviewer’s Note: This book is part of the "Undone!" line of books. For any readers who don’t like explicit scenes, you will want to find another book. The "Undone!" line is a very sensual line that I believe some readers would find too explicit. The sensuality doesn’t take away from the stories, but it is highly focused on in each story.

*Each story in this anthology is part of a series in the Undone line. Each story either involves characters from the author’s previous works or kicks off a new series.

Seducing a Stranger by Christine Merrill
Year/Setting: Regency London
Victoria Paget will do anything to discover the truth about her husband’s death. All fingers point to his lieutenant, Tom Godrey, as a possible murderer. Since Tom was the only one from the unit who survived, it seems likely that he sold out his unit to the French. She’s finally found a way to meet up with him. She gains access to a bawdy house and seduces Tom into spending the night with her.

Tom figures out partway through their initial encounter that this must be the widow Paget. Little does she know that he’s had a secret love for her ever since her husband spoke of her during the war. He knows he must do anything in his power to help her so she won’t have to sell herself for money. He also wants to keep her all for himself. Will her heart become to tangled up to discover the truth? Can Tom really be a traitor and a murderer?

These five stories are so short (only about 50 pages each) and it’s hard to get a complete story written into such a short space. Christine Merrill has done an excellent job of putting a whole story in the confines of so few pages. I felt that the characters were developed enough to be likeable and still retain their humanity. The little bit of mystery that she worked into the story was a nice touch that helped keep reality pushing every move Tom and Victoria made. I really liked Tom and his sense of honor. I was really worried that he might have been involved in his commander’s death. I think you’ll be surprised at how everything turns out.

The Viking’s Forbidden Love-Slave by Michelle Willingham
Year/Setting: Ireland, 1102
Aisling O’Brannon wakes up after being kidnapped to find herself bound, bruised and in the company of the moodiest Norseman ever. Her captor is unwilling to hear her pleas to be released and returned to her family.

Tharand Hardrata is a Norse warrior on a mission. He has kidnapped Aisling knowing that she is beautiful, a virgin and spoils of war. He plans to give Aisling to King Mangus hoping to exchange Aisling for his sister who is held by the king. He offers her protection from those who would rape her, but can’t help himself from sampling some of her charms. Tharand is torn between his love for his sister and his desire to make Aisling his own. He pleasures her body without taking her maidenhead on their journey to the king, but remains doggedly determined to get his sister back.

If only he could have Aisling and his sister back, too. It’s harder to tell if Aisling is the slave or if Tharand is a love-slave.

This story is packed with sexual desire and longing. From the opening pages, Aisling and Therand fight their sexual attraction. As he manipulates her body, her mind wars with wanting him and wanting to kill him. I enjoyed the story, but felt the characters weren’t very developed. I found most of the attention on the sexual tension and their journey. The end is action packed and I had to reread it a couple times to catch all that happens. What a ride!

Disrobed and Dishonored by Louise Allen
Year/Setting: 1816 England
Sarah Tatton is in a quandary. She’s just discovered her fiancé has raped her maid and her father doesn’t care as long as she marries Sir Jeremy for his title. She leaves the house in a huff and takes off on horseback. When she meets a highwayman on the road, she can’t believe he only wants a kiss. She offers her pearl necklace (a gift from Sir Jeremy the swine); but he only wants a kiss. When she tells him her troubles, he agrees to help her out.

Jonathan takes her back to the inn and sneaks her into his room. He agrees not to take her virginity, but he will give her enough of a taste of bedroom pleasures to convince her chaperone that she is ruined. When she is sent to her friend Jessica’s estate for a party, the last person she expects to meet is her sexy highwayman…but when she discovers who he is, will she ever be willing to see him again?

A hot romance from start to finish. Jonathan is sexy and incredibly noble…well, noble enough to save a girl from an unwanted marriage while having fun between the sheets with her. This was one of my favorite stories in this anthology. It had hot sex, surprises and was just a fun read.

A Night for Her Pleasure by Terri Brisbin
Year/Setting: Brittany, 1066
Lord Simon and Lady Elise married as a matter of convenience. With Elise’s father in hot water with the crown, it was doubtful that she could make a good match in marriage. Since Simon is friends with a trio of bastards, not all ladies would accept him as a match. Each one is so concerned about making the other happy—especially physically—that all else heads to the background. Elise is trying to break away from her stifling mother who wants to continue to control Elise into her marriage. Lord Simon wants nothing to do with that, as his wife will be the head of his home…not her mother. Will Elise be able to break the maternal cord? Will they really accept each other?

Terri Brisbin used "The Gift of the Magi" as a loose basis for this story. She went with the question, "What if Simon & Elise put all their focus on pleasuring the other?" The answer is that you get a hot and steamy story. Each one keeps putting aside their own fears and needs trying to make the best of everything for the other. While sex appears to be the main point of the story, it really isn’t. The main focus is Simon worrying about Elise’s pleasure and Elise worrying that she won’t be good enough for Simon. Everything they do is for each other and it gives the story the depth it needs. It moved awfully fast to fit into the confines of the short story, but I’m excited to read the other stories in this series as they will be full length and go into more depth.

The Unlacing of Miss Leigh by Diane Gaston
Year/Setting: London, 1812
Margaret (Maggie) Leigh is in dire straights. When her father, a vicar, passed away, he left her destitute and penniless. She has been living with her cousin in London while seeking a position as a companion or governess. She’s been unsuccessful in finding employment and is entertaining an outrageous offer. She is meeting a man who is a recluse and talking to him. In exchange, he’s paying her enough money to keep her brother in school for another year. He’s actually looking for a paid mistress. She is aware of this when she shows up to the initial meeting, but discovers he is Graham Veall, the Baron Veall’s son who she has secretly loved ever since he saved her as a young girl from some bullies. He was wounded in the war and his face has to be covered by a mask to hide the scars.

She decides to become his mistress for two months in order to earn the money for her brother’s schooling as well as an annual annuity that will keep her in a home and fed for life. She doesn’t find Graham as repulsive as he thinks he is. She is drawn to him and his intelligence and humor. It doesn’t matter if he wears his mask or not. She wouldn’t care…but he would. He freaks out if she comes anywhere near his mask or if she suggests he remove it indoors. As she gets to know him better, she tried to remember it’s only two months—but her heart yearns for a lifetime. How can a man who believes he is so unlovable ever be loved?

Maggie & Graham’s story is so very sweet. She’s an innocent, the vicar’s daughter, thrown into a world where virtue isn’t virtuous. The only reason she really agrees to be his two-month mistress is because of the crush she’s had on him since she was a very young girl. Now she’ll have to do her best to protect her heart and try to convince Graham to risk being with people again. This story was very poignant and sweet.


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