I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.A Reckless Desire by Isabella Bradford
Series: Breconridge Brothers #3
Published by Ballantine on March 1, 2016
Genres: Historical Romance
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Lord Rivers Fitzroy is as charming and sought-after as his rakish elder brothers, though he immerses himself more in dusty books and scholarly pursuits than in bawdy houses. Yet, Hell-bent on making the most of his remaining bachelorhood now that his father insists he marry, Rivers becomes the favorite of a troupe of Italian dancers. One night, after a performance, the handsome lord is challenged with a most provocative wager: Turn the players’ meek and mousy cousin into the first lady of the London stage.
But Lucia di Rossi is not what she seems. Scorned by the rest of her family, Lucia longs for the respect and stardom of a great actress. Rivers’s wager could be the answer to all her hopes—so long as he understands that she wants to be an actress, not his mistress. The two commence her metamorphosis in earnest—even as passion begins to take center stage. As Lucia’s dreams come true, she fears that it may be Rivers, not she, who is the master performer. Is he only making her believe he cares? Has she found the spotlight only to lose her heart—or will the final curtain reveal a love strong enough to last?
Rivers Fitzroy is the youngest of the Breconridge brothers, all sons of the Duke of Breconridge who is still looking for a grandson to continue the legacy he’s carefully created. When Rivers enters into a wager with his friend to transform mousy theater dresser Lucia di Rossi into an actress, he never considers it would change his life so profoundly.
Unbeknownst to anyone, Lucia is already delivering a performance as she does what she needs to do to survive within a family of renowned dancers who thinks she’s talentless. Though Rivers did recognize a certain spark during the development of the wager, it still didn’t prepare him for the depths of Lucia’s skills.
This was a lovely story, reminiscent of Pygmalion or a young Professor Higgins and Eliza in My Fair Lady, though Lucia doesn’t have quite the same hill to climb. Rivers is sweet and Lucia passionate, both bonding almost immediately because of their shared love of reading and Shakespeare. Since he’s third in succession to his father’s title, there’s less pressure on him, leaving him free to pursue his own interests so that makes the story more plausible. I enjoyed their relationship and the entire focus on the theater world in this era, even when Lucia’s lack of trust could be irritating at times.
I’ve enjoyed the series and this was a fine conclusion, even if the ending was a bit of fantasy.