Title: An Indecent Proposition
Author: Emma Wildes
Genre: Regency-set historical
Grade: a gentleman's C
How Hot is it?: 4 chili peppers
How about that title? It reminded me of the movie "Indecent Proposal," where Robert Redford offers Woody Harrelson $1 million to sleep with Demi Moore, and gets stuck in a sort of rut exploring what a great idea it is to pimp out your wife. The kind of great idea that some of us get while we are drunk (more about this later). Well, An Indecent Proposition is a better book than "Indecent Proposal" is a movie. Not that that particular movie sets the bar very high.
In an fit of what I can only call testosterone poisoning exacerbated by alcohol, 2 noblemen engage in the kind of trash-talking that only drunken stupid people can, and end up making one of those written, public bets as to which of them is actually better in bed. Upon sobriety, they more or less felt like letting the whole thing drop, but hey, they are guys, so they didn't. Enter the heroine, a beautiful widow whose late husband was not only horrible in bed, but also abusive. She is curious and attracted enough to the men to want to give love(making) a second chance and upon their agreement to complete discretion, offers to judge their bet. Sounds like the lead-in to an interesting erotic novel about a menage a trois, doesn't it? Kind of disappointing that it wasn't, but it is a romance and there are traditions like 1:1 pairings we need to uphold here as well as happy ever after So this is a story of two romances--the formerly-abused widow and the man she falls in love with in the first tryst of the book (the second gets canceled due to lack of interest), and the man who was supposed to have the second tryst and the young woman he loves but is about to marry another. And, you know what? This book was pretty, well, decent. The romances are charmingly executed, the writing is smooth, and there are no jarring anachronisms.
One thing I did find disappointing is that the villain was (IMO) insufficiently punished for being a villain. He should have been slain in a duel (I'm bloodthirsty when it comes to villains ) but he just gets roughed up a bit. One of the heroes calls this roughing-up "barbaric" which was probably the only anachronism in the book because a REAL Regency duke would have slain this villain in a duel, sent him to Australia, or at least sicced a Navy press gang on him--and not thought such an act barbaric at all.