cover image All Afternoon with a 
Scandalous Marquess

All Afternoon with a Scandalous Marquess

Alexandra Hawkins. St. Martin’s Paperbacks, $7.99 mass market (320p) ISBN 978-1-250-00137-5

The fifth installment of Hawkins’s Lords of Vice series (after Sunrise with a Notorious Lord) is highly improbable and often gets in its own way. After escaping an abusive childhood where she was raped by her foster brother, Catherine Deverall took refuge in London, where she learned to be a skilled courtesan. Eventually she became mysterious Madame Venna, the masked proprietress of the Golden Pearl. Attempting to get over a night of passion with captivating Simon “Saint” Jefferes, the marquess of Sainthill, Catherine sleeps with his friend and takes other lovers, while sending her friends and employees to sate Saint’s passion. Unfortunately, their efforts to forget each other through lurid promiscuity highlight the squalor of even the classiest brothel and the unappealing amorality of both characters, making the love-conquers-all theme unconvincing. (Aug.)