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Her Ladyship’s Companion by Evangeline Collins

Monday, October 31, 2011

Her Ladyships Companion

Evangeline Collins
Historical Romance
Published in 2009

H/h - Gideon Rosedale/Lady Isabella Stirling
Setting: Selkirk, Scotland, 1816.

Read in Oct, 2011.
My rating:


                                                             [spoiler alert]

Her Ladyship’s Companion deals with two themes, one I lurrve, another I HATE- gigolos and infidelity respectively. Well, kinda ironic since they both go side-by-side. But this book made me think a little differently on both sides. I still love gigolos (For those who don’t know, Derek Craven from Dreaming of You is the love of my life and those who already heard it many times, sorry about that *giggles*. And for those who want to grab at my meat, back off! :p) but I’ve learned to open my eyes a bit about spousal abuse and why a woman would turn to another man, a hired one at that. Gideon stole my heart completely, I don’t even know if I’d be able to express that adequately, the things he did for Bella; all his sacrifices. Bella, on the other hand, I didn’t mind her clinginess to Gideon (can’t AT ALL blame her for those popping orgasms she had, those some reviewers seem to poke fun at, since Gideon was that good) because I got where she stood, her insecurities were not at all unfounded. I really felt for her. It was in the end that I took a little issue with some of her behaviors. Other than that, it was a great book. My first Evangeline Collins book was a hit for sure. Apart from Gideon and the really good writing, I appreciated the very unique plotting this book had. Time to time, I didn't know what will happen next but that didn’t hamper anything for me.

Isabella suffered since the age of 17, when she made a mistake of kissing a groom and caught red-handed by her older brother, Phillip. Since the death of their parent, a young Phillip, who’s very stern about his duties, was trying hard to deal with their father’s enormous debt. Being immediate younger to Phillip and very beautiful, Bella was supposed to bring a Lord with good money to help him with it. So, when Bella was caught doing something so rash, Phillip decided to marry her off to the next guy who asked for her hand. Yes, everything got out and she was ruined so it’s not like he had many choices. He didn’t even make sure about this Scottish Lord Stirling, only that he looks like a nice guy and had loads of money. Phillip never did care for Bella in the past 5 years; about how she lived , how her life was spent in that remote Scottish castle on the farthest side of Scotland where her husband dumped her immediately after marriage and would ignore her as much as possible, he staying in London most of the times. Phillip thought Bella might be pregnant (which proved false of course) so this was just the solution. Way to go big brother! Her youngest, whoremonger brother Julien isn’t any better. Now that he’s grown, he never wanted to know what happened to his sister beyond the surface. He’s working with his own ship, helping with the monetary situation, fine but I didn’t like him at all. I don’t wanna talk about her sisters since they really don’t have any power. But they did corresponded with her whenever they could. Then, there’s her husband who is impotent and punished her for this. Seriously! The guy was that nasty! He married her for being beautiful and it’s supposed to cure him of impotency. The wedding night was a disaster, as far as I could understand, and any of the few other efforts he made. As she couldn’t cure him (oh, I’m so surprised!) he hates her and abuses her, both physically and verbally. When he isn’t abusing her, he’s ignores her by leaving her in that less important estate. This is the summery of the last 6 years of Bella’s life. The only solace Bella got from this marriage is her roses she loves to grow. When Stirling dies, she’d own the manor house as the marriage settlement. She was a passionate young woman who paid the price for something she didn’t even do by living like this, a virgin even after 6 yrs of her marriage. So, I had to tell you first where Bella stood when it all started.

Bella’s French cousin, Esme is the only one who cares deeply for her. Esme is a young widow, living her life as she pleases. Porter, an ex-soldier is her bodyguard, her jack-of-all-trades, who’s also very possessive towards her. I didn’t know, at first, if to like her or not. She seemed like one of those worldly, spoiled widows (a French one at that) I don’t much care for. But, as I learned more about her, I saw she’s got more into her than she let’s on. And, there might be something going on between her and Porter (as Bella suspects). I liked that she’d come to visit Bella whenever she could and be her only confidante, at least as far as Bella would tell her. No, Bella never said anything to anyone about her husband’s behavior, only the servants of Bowhill Park knew. It was Esme who finally asked her to have a little flirtation in her life, hire a man and be done with her penance. Bella was confused about what to do; you can guess, all sorts of conflicting thoughts came flooding, with a lot of guilt because she, of course didn’t want her husband or Phillip to find out, ever. I don’t blame her because she had no other choice. Ultimately she said ‘no’ even though she wanted to have a man, even if a hired one. I totally got her conflicts. What she didn’t know that Esme doesn’t take ‘no’ for an answer and a few days later, Gideon was on his way to Bowhill for a fortnight.

Now, to talk about Gideon, there wasn’t anything that surprising but there were plenty to make me awestruck; no, it’s not only his love making but as a man beautiful, inside out. His mother was a whore, he never knew his father. Madame Rubicon does run a fashionable brothel so he was quite privileged or so he thought. As a kid he lived with an aunt since his mother never wanted anything to do with him. As a teenager, he finally came to live in the brothel. Spend those early years of manhood having a very good time ‘learning’ the pleasures of bed from various girls there, not knowing it was all a plan of Madame Rubicon because she knew Gideon would someday be the star of her brothel, a beautiful man and the ultimate instrument of pleasure which in return, would bring her huge bundles of money. Gideon knew nothing of this so he worked some odd jobs there, then sometimes later, stepped into what Rubicon has already planned for him. It was kinda expected; the way he grew up and the only kinda life he knew from an early age and then knowing he’s got no other better option. The only mistake he made was in thinking he chose to be this, a male prostitute and that someday he’ll have enough money to resign and buy himself a life that includes a home, a wife, even kids. Oh, that man broke my heart. But not in the beginning. I didn’t know any of this then. He was hired by Esme, who took a good look at him and thought he’d suit (he did suit just fine for Bella lolz). Gideon thought this is the woman who wants to hire him but soon, he realizes he has travel to Scotland. Then, we get a glimpse inside of Madame Rubicon’s brothel and how things go in there, a few insights and so on, including Gideon’s musing and his growing (though late) dislike for this profession. He’s been saving but there isn’t ever enough money even to buy a decent house, so he has to stick around. Then, the ever efficient Porter narrates thoroughly what’s expected of him, with a threat on behalf of Bella. I thought he’d be an excellent hero, if EC ever deems to give him and Esme their book; the one I’m sure I’ll read!

Gideon was pretty sure the lady he’s supposed to service would be at least older than him, maybe an elderly matron bored with her life. But what he found was a treasure, at least with her beauty and quiet grace. She’s much younger and aristocracy is written in everything she does. Not that she’s a vain, spoiled, haughty thing; quite an improvement since Gideon has experienced all sorts of disdainful behavior from people, even from the servants of his clients. He’s quite immune after 10 yrs into this. But, Bella took his breath away. On the other hand, Bella was kinda mad at Esme for not listening to her but one look at Gideon and she was breathless. She never, in her wildest dreams, imagined Esme would hire someone so perfect, in looks and in bearing. Gideon was ever the polite gentleman with her and didn’t rush things. Their relationship grew steadily, with talks and walks and few stolen kisses here and there. What marred my fun was- though I knew that Bella was already weak (both physically and emotionally) towards Gideon, not knowing much about him at that point I thought he was kinda distant, his every move calculated. But that wasn’t Gideon’s fault, even as a prostitute, he has to abide by rules of intimacy. He performs the most intimate of acts with unknown/little known women but without those rules, his life would be very complicated. One of those rules was, of course, use French letters unfailingly which Gideon did and I think, he’d never ever had sex without one. Another was, to talk calculatingly, wholly bound on seduction or whatever the lady wants. Then, no staying the entire night, also unfailingly. Some of these came out as musings from Gideon’s part, while he would think about his reaction to Bella. They were having a great time together but so far, no sex. But the time’s running out and he wants her. Bella even shows him her treasured rose garden, a hobby no one cared about, which made him feel special. Then those kisses show Gideon what a passionate woman she is, which only whets his appetite. I didn’t like it that he’d think about his other clients and kinda compare this situation with the others time to time but guess it couldn’t avoided, seeing his profession. This so far has defied all his years of experience.

But soon Bella gives into this. And, Lord they had some hot hot sex. Not all of those are explicitly narrated but sometimes in the middle of it or from Bella’s own musings of how something that Gideon did to her. It was just so good to read. I loved them and disliked them at the same time. Yah, because all the while I knew it wasn’t a real relationship which made me uncomfortable. But that’s just me. I should’ve expected that. Gideon was totally, utterly surprised to find Bella a virgin and then the shock of why she would give it to a man like him made him think about all this in a new way. He was glad that any other man wasn’t sent to do this job because now, he was feeling protective of her. And, then Bella would pop orgasms and keep on going... I mean it makes girl jealous and makes her want to find a man like Gideon. He KNEW very well what he’s doing. He’d never let it happen without a French letter, even when Bella repeatedly wanted to do without one. I know it’s totally logical but it kinda glaringly showed me that this is casual sex, however mind blowing this may be; that there is nothing substantial in this relationship. Or was there? Soon it begins to bug Bella more and more. She knew, like me, she shouldn’t but sadly, she wasn’t a sophisticated society hussy, so she had trouble separating the physical with the emotional. She fell, quite hard, for Gideon. One day, in the middle of sex, it begins to bug her so much that she makes him stop and starts asking questions like if he felt anything for her. The whole discussion didn’t end well of course but it was Bella who felt bad for making it in the first place and smooths thing over. Then again, the night before he was supposed to leave, she asks Gideon to stay but he wouldn’t. This leads to a bad fight and in a rage, Gideon leaves for London. Bella is now totally lost, misses him terribly. Gideon does too but was sure she’ll never ask for him again. Bella was so desperate that she takes money from her husband’s safe and sends it directly to Rubicon for Gideon; to send him ASAP for another fortnight. Gideon is angry at her for doing this because, 1st of all, he conducts his own affairs and not through Rubicon anymore. Then the money was waaay more than what was required. No matter what he thought, he also didn’t want to be reminded of the reality of their relationship. So he’s again in Scotland, angry, with every intention to leave ASAP. He behaves like a jerk with Bella and God, knowing her plight in life, my heart was breaking for her. She honestly had NO IDEA how things are conducted in matters like this. I would’ve slapped Gideon but he soon realizes it wasn’t her fault and makes it up to her. She asks for it again without a French letter but he says ‘no’, again. I wished, for once, he’d lose control because I could see he was trying hard not to. Anyway, this time their affair went very well, much more intimate but Gideon still followed his rules while Bella abided by them. And when they part, he leaves his address but somehow Gideon knew she won’t call for him anymore.

Then Bella’s husband comes for a visit with his debauched bunch. I don’t feel like narrating the way that man treated Bella but it was horrible, abominable and utterly humiliating; he just hated her and treated her as dirt. There were incidents including one of the a$$holes and the skunk aka her husband made her apologies to the SOB! Then, one day, he finds out about the money and in a fit of rebellion, Bella tells him the truth. Lord, after that, he foul mouths her (nothing new) and beats her with a candle stick (nothing new again). My hands were positively itching to cut the man’s balls off... oh wait, he doesn’t even have balls that work! This showed me the kind of ‘relationship’ she had with her husband and why she was so scared when he was in residence. Bella is sick afterwards while the skunk leaves with his lot to parrrthayy! Meanwhile, in London, Gideon can’t think of anything but Bella and he’s been celibate since the first moment he’s laid his eyes on her, not taking any more clients. It was so unexpected and sweet, since I thought he’d go on with it. But he knew this can’t go on. There are several who wants the ‘pleasure’ of his company. He’s very upset, despite himself, that Bella hadn’t contacted again. So he goes to meet a client. I was feeling a bit uncomfortable at the moment but the man didn’t disappoint me. He cried off with some excuse. Now he has to see Bella again and wants to resign. First, he tries to convince Rubicon but the nasty b*tch thoroughly reminded him of his station, profession and how worthless he is to every woman because he’s “nothing but a means to an orgasm” for them all. Oh I felt so so so sad for him. I cringed and wanted to kill the harpy! She also informs him how she planned it all from the beginning but Gideon says nothing. Because there’s nothing to be done about it anymore. I remember a quote where he thought that everything is about ‘them’, not him. Nobody cares about what he wants. Oh the poor honey! :(

After the client debacle (as he just couldn’t get it up AT ALL, something he’s NEVER experienced in his life), he goes to Rubicon again and makes the ultimate sacrifice. He gives away almost all the money he saved, a small fortune, to buy his freedom. God, I just wanted to hold him tight to my ample bosom. I did! Seeing his bleak future and his musings (since he knew what he was doing was totally insane because he and Bella have no future whatsoever)... ah, can’t explain how sad I felt. In Scotland, he finds out Bella is sick. No one would call for a doctor because everyone is scared of Stirling. He takes care of Bella, she gets well and this time their relationship grew much more intimate (by then he knew he loves her but haven’t told her thinking it’s no use); he slept with her, calling her not only Bella-Bella (something I adored) but also other endearments and finally, in one omigawd-someone-hold-me steamy scene, he finally gives in without French letters. As I mentioned this bugged me so far but when it happened, it took my breath away. Gideon never felt anything like this and I could positively feel his emotions out of the book. It was so hot yet there was this awe there in him... I mean wow!

In the meantime, when Bella was sick, the housekeeper sent for her brothers and also for Gideon, if her brothers won’t come. The groom makes a mistake and Phillip learns about Gideon. Julien was also in town and now, after 5 years of ignoring her like she never existed, both brothers flew into indignation knowing she hired a prostitute. MY ARSE! I wanted to kick them both, seeing the way they berated, made snide comments (mostly from Julien the a$$) manhandled Bella and Gideon. They ask Gideon to go away. Before that Gideon leaves all the money that was used to hire him to Phillip, for Bella. And now, he has nothing left in this world. My heart was breaking like hell. Anyway, soon Phillip gets hold of the real situation between Bella and Stirling and feels very guilty. He tries to make things right by asking Julien to bring Gideon back. Bella was having hysterical fits learning she’d lost Gideon again, for her brothers making her give up the one thing that mattered in her life. This scene, where she kept saying no, no, no, no... can’t explain how it tore at my heart. Then Gideon was back and Phillip gives him the permission to take care of Bella while he takes care of Stirling. Gideon helps Phillip with information about Bella’s relationship with Stirling as Bella won’t reveal anything. Then the brother and the sister had a talk too. Gideon and Bella had another couple of weeks together to sort out their mutual feelings. I loved all the love scenes but it was the last love scene as Bella did something special for him that had me there, it was SO WOW! I could see in my mind’s eyes how he looked, I was simply blown away by him and his reactions. He was so happy with Bella that I could almost sigh... almost, if I wasn’t jealous myself. *sighs hard*

There is a slight misunderstanding about Stirling’s whereabouts so Julien, who took up the job to hunt him down, misses him. The man is back in Bowhill Park, ending Bella and Gideon’s idyllic existence. But they were expecting this. The climax of the story was awesome, so unexpected for me. Then again, I wasn’t sure how their situation would have a HEA in the first place. Esme comes back to help Bella out and I admired the woman all the more for it. Now, what bugged me about Bella was: First, she asked Gideon very callously about his financial situation, where he confesses what he did for her. Then, she knew what Gideon did and while proposing, Gideon asked her to be prepared that sometimes she might meet some women or the other he used to know. So, why was she so mad and jealous when a former client (who BTW has been a good friend and very nice to him over the few years of their relationship), a genuine well-wisher writes him to congratulate? I mean SHE KNEW the terms and she was supposed to love the man with flaws and all; a man who sacrificed so many things for her, fought almost to death and she was mad? Really?! It’s Gideon who tries to mollify her by using soothing words and apologies. WHY? HE DESERVES YOUR ABSOLUTE TRUST twit! This alone made me take away half a star. And then I felt, why would he have to mollify her? WHY? I thought Bella should’ve apologized instead for doubting him. Lord, don’t know. This made me angry, it really did. So, in the end, I give it a 4.5 star.

Lovely work and looking forward to more EC books in the future.


Favorite Quote:
One by one, she undid the metal buttons. The last one proved difficult, but with a determined tug, it released. His stomach muscles contracted as she reached inside to gently pull out his erection. She had at first thought to remove his trousers, but the sight of him sprawled decadently in the chair, legs spread, the placket open and draping his upper thigh, magnificent c*ck standing at attention . . . No, the trousers would stay exactly where they were.

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Punya
I'm a simple girl. I love to read in my spare time and do reviews the books I read. I also write, mostly songs/poems, though I'm not published. I love music and traveling. Sometimes, I wish I could live inside a book, having my own HEA. :)
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