by Susan Johnson

November 1995
ISBN: 0-553-57213-X
Reviewer Graphic Button Bantam Books
Mass Market Paperback

Countess Angela de Grae, known simply as Countess Angel by the Prince of Wale’s set, was not about to become involved with Kit Braddock. Despite being her friend’s daughter’s beau, he was known to be quite the womanizer, with even a harem of his own. Angela, living a separate life from her husband, wasn't against taking a lover when it pleased her, but she knew Kit would only cause complications for her.

Kit didn’t come to England to become involved with a married woman, but to find a wife of his own to please his mother. However, soon after meeting Angela, he discards his prospective bride and even promises to send his harem away. And despite both of their better judgements, Angela and Kit become involved in an affair that appears likely to only end in heartache. With seemingly insurmountable obstacles, the least of all being Angela’s abusive husband and a scandal that could reach all the way to the Queen, will it be possible for these two lovers to have a happily-ever-after?

Susan Johnson gives readers a look into the late 19th century historical England that many romance authors do not. The world she portrays is full of marriages of conveniences by both genders, secret rendezvous and the endless parade of country weekends, soirees and life as part of the Prince’s entourage that seems much more tiring and hypocritical than glamorous. This depiction comes across as surprisingly realistic given that many historical romances only show this era in a positive light.

Brazen is in keeping with Ms. Johnson’s trademark of writing abundant, erotic and graphic sex scenes. By both the story line and through the use of footnotes, she informs us of the birth control methods and sex toys used in that time. (Nothing like a history lesson with your erotica!) But while Kit and Angela have loads of sexual chemistry, I was left unsure of their compatibility together in other areas of their lives since most of the time when they were together, it seemed as though they were in bed!

However, we did learn that Angela is a devoted mother and that although Kit was known to “enjoy” a number of women, he also had respect for them and helped several of them escape from a hellish existence. Their devotion to each other by the end of the story was convincing and Ms. Johnson delights readers with a family reunion of sorts including the characters from her previous Braddock-Black novels.

Reviewed in January 2003 by Nicole.

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