My rating: 4 of 5 stars
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for an honest review at Romancing Rakes for the Love of Romance.
Delilah Marvelle’s School of Gallantry series has been sitting on my insanely large To Be Read list for quite some time now, but it took the opportunity of doing this review to finally get me to take the plunge with NIGHT OF PLEASURE. I knew that in each book, there would be a visit (or two) at some point to the aforementioned school, but that they all could be read as stand-alone stories. And based on how much I enjoyed this fourth book in the series, I know I’ll be going back to binge read them all very soon.
We first meet the hero and heroine of NIGHT OF PLEASURE on the same day they meet each other for the first time. That day turned out to be both the best and worst day of young Derek Holbrook’s life. It was the best because he met the woman destined to one day become his wife; it was the worst because only moments later, he lost his beloved father to a previously undisclosed illness. Derek had been taught by his father that it was always better to show a happy face to others, never revealing true emotion, but after that man breathed his last, Derek (now Viscount Banfield) could only sob in his new fiancée’s arms.
Clementine Grey spent the majority of her childhood attempting to parent her own father while trying to stay alive amidst all the political violence surrounding him as a man of worldwide influence and stature. Clementine’s confused memories about the angry conflicts between her parents before her mother’s death have spawned unhealthy notions about what a true marriage would be to any man, convincing her that she should never marry if it meant bringing a child into a similarly dysfunctional household. Still, Clementine wouldn’t have to confront that problem until years from now, when she’s old enough to marry Derek.
Suddenly it’s eight years later, and Derek is all but swooning at the prospect of finally having the lovely Clementine as his own. This marriage was arranged by their fathers to provide money for the Banfield estate and a reliable husband for Clementine, but Derek is certain Clementine is just as much in love with him as he is with her. When she finally arrives for the wedding, only to assert that she intends to leave him for another man she considers merely a friend, Derek is understandably distraught. When he realizes she will not be swayed, he then convinces her to give him just one night with her, a night where they can be intimate with each other in the way he had dreamed of all those years apart. But it’s only when the night is over that the true story between Derek and Clementine will begin in earnest.
Because NIGHT OF PLEASURE was my first book in the School of Gallantry series, I wasn’t sure when to expect that institution to become a part of the plot. But as I was pulled more deeply into Derek and Clementine’s tumultuous romance, I forgot all about the School and just let myself enjoy the beauty of Delilah Marvelle’s writing. Derek is a lot like an overeager puppy when it comes to his love for Clementine, and rightfully feels like he’s been kicked in the teeth when he’s hit with the reality of her decision to leave him. Never mind that the reasoning behind her goal is flawed, never mind that they really don’t know each other all that well to begin with, even after eight years of written correspondence. The fact remains that Derek has been patient for far too long, and refuses to be denied at the very moment that should be ending his lonely wait. Meanwhile, Clementine finally understands the consequences of her plan to abandon Derek at the altar, including just how much her fortune is needed to support all the people who depend on him for their living. Her growing guilt prods her into agreeing to Derek’s single request before her departure. That night Derek and Clementine spend together provides a starting point in the path to their ultimate reconciliation, but it takes the fortuitous appearance of the School of Gallantry to gently instruct them in exactly what they need to enjoy a truly happy life together.
What I enjoyed the most about NIGHT OF PLEASURE was how the path to true love between Derek and Clementine was never easy or predictable, but it was always deeply satisfying, from the mixed emotions of its opening, through its twists and turns, and ending with its passionate and touching conclusion. I’m pleased to add Delilah Marvelle to my must-read historical romance writer list and I’m looking forward to savoring each of the previous School of Gallantry books in anticipation of the next one to come.
By God. The girl who had once wiped away his tears had come to wipe them away again when he least expected it. He wanted to grab her and kiss her and smother her with every emotion he’d ever held within.
Only they were in a church, and the violins had stopped and people were staring.
“God love you,” he rasped. “God love you for astounding me.”