Publication Date: October 21, 2014
Caroline, Countess of Eskmaine is tired of being seen as the good girl that can do no wrong. She’s raising a young son, managing the estates left to her son by her late husband, and now she’s been asked to help find a suitable husband for her young cousin. She wants some adventure in her life and for someone to look at her as something other than the always-constant Caroline. In her eyes, one man is the soul of self-indulgence. Tristan, Baron Gresham has been living life much for himself. He’s traveled the Continent, sowed his wild oats and now he’s looking for a settled life. For Tristan, there is no one more suited for his settled life than Caroline. The spark between them is undeniable, but are they better suited as lovers or more? Sense & Sensuality: Caroline’s After Dark Georgian Romance (The Gravesmeres Book 3) follows A Duchess Enraged: An After Dark Version Georgian Romance (The Gravesmeres Book 2) in the After Dark Series.
I have yet to read A Most Unusual Situation: A Traditional Version Georgian Romance (The Gravesmeres Book 1), the first novel in the After Dark Series. Quigley sets the story as a stand-alone showing us the lack of trust stemming from events of the first novel through dialogue and reflection. In the first novel, Caroline’s brother, Adam, has a strained relationship with his wife, Allegra and Tristan has a strong goal of interfering in the struggling couple’s relationship as means of revenge. As could be imagined, there are no happy and warm feelings at the start of Sense & Sensuality: Caroline’s After Dark Georgian Romance (The Gravesmeres Book 3), when Allegra challenges Caroline to accept a dance from the next man that asks her, and that man is Tristan.
Caroline is a great character. She’s loyal, intelligent and spirited. Frequently in the romance genre, characters are described as spirited but come off as a bit silly. Their reactions in the storyline are contrary to their independence; they need a man for balance. They are prone to stomping their feet and seeing pigheaded stubbornness as an ability to stand on one’s own. Don’t get me wrong, those characters can be fun to read as well and, as consistent with the genre, are often quite young. Caroline is mature and knows the path she wants to take. She wants adventure, intimacy and to be seen as someone perhaps a bit unpredictable; the character is a breath of fresh air.
Tristan is a rake reformed but not quite that reformed. He sees himself as having been a bit led and foolish. The level of hostility from Caroline’s family might seem out of place in Sense and Sensuality, but the author makes clear that it’s well earned in her novel A Duchess Enraged: An After Dark Version Georgian Romance (The Gravesmeres Book 2) set a few years prior to this work. Tristan, with the benefit of maturity, has found the sort of fun he once thoroughly enjoyed to be not so entertaining and revenge to be an endeavor that wins for no one. He’s ready to settle down and have children, but he will never be one to settle. His eyes are on a particular prize, and he’s never one to let things stand in his way.
The dialogue between characters throughout the story reminded me of Julia Quinn’s very deft writing. The conversation is witty, fast and worthy of the characters that Quigley has so wonderfully framed. These are characters who know who they are and know where they’re going, and if they don’t go there together, they will be just fine, but wouldn’t it be fun if they did? Sense & Sensuality: Caroline’s After Dark Georgian Romance (The Gravesmeres Book 3) has its erotic moments that were well placed in the storyline, but I will remember the novel best for the humor. In an early scene, Tristan meets a former flame who, it seems, plays a strong role in the first novel. The conversation between the former bad boy and woman he sees as a manipulator could be nasty and mean but in the artful way it’s delivered is just fun. This reader found herself smiling frequently while reading Sense & Sensuality: Caroline’s After Dark Georgian Romance (The Gravesmeres Book 3).
All of the elements of Quigley’s story converge into a beautiful dance. Quigley’s setting is colorfully described and her narrative is polished. The best stories are the ones that leave the reader feeling that they could have spent more time with the wonderful characters and story-telling and Sense & Sensuality: Caroline’s After Dark Georgian Romance (The Gravesmeres Book 3) has that feeling in spades. I’ve read hundreds of romance novels by a score of authors and would count this novel in the top 25 best.
To read my review of A Collector’s Item: Rowena’s After Dark Regency Romance (The Arlingbys Book 1) by Alicia Quigley click here.
If you’re a fan of romance, particularly Regency, you can read an excerpt and buy Sense & Sensuality by Alicia Quigley on