I'm giving this book four stars even though it had an element I actually don't like. But I really loved the rest of it so I recommend it.
It's another contrived plot for Warren, yeehaw! But, as usual, it's done well. A brother has lost too much money and his sister makes a deal with his creditor for six months of being his mistress for the elimination of the debt. This is all arranged without the brother's knowledge and the fun begins.
A nice thing, which is typical of all Warren books I've read (besides The Wife Trap) is that the couple has very engaging chemistry. Right away they're dynamite together. She's a widow -- married young to a very old man in order to obtain some security for her two siblings -- so she's not some blushing virgin and Rafe is not a brute. She's scared to death the first time they meet, but he knows what he's doing and they become very enthusiastic lovers.
There are a lot of sex scenes in this book and, although that sometimes bothers me because it feels like padding, it works here. The whole first half of the story revolves around their affair and I found it quite romantic.
There's also a very, very nasty villain and a much deserved revenge plot. Heart-breaking back story and conflict for our lovers.
It's the conflict I had issues with. The whole thing would have been settled if they'd just talked. What starts out a necessary "secret" ends up being unnecessarily kept/unexplained and there simply was no reason for the "why" of everything not to be aired. Of course, if that had happened, maybe the book would have been half as long. But maybe it would have simply taken a different tack. There must be some reason to keep the secret and I do expect authors to come up with that reason. An extra threat, or protecting someone else's secret, even a major misunderstanding ... these are all plausible. So, in the end, when the reconciliation is occurring we have the characters info-dumping on each other. Finally asking the questions that could have been asked much earlier and giving the reasons that could have been explained. And admitting they all could have been asked and answered. So the author obviously sees it's a problem. I suggest she take a little time in the future and meditate on a plausible why
rather than glossing over it with a regret at the end.
For the first 50% of this book, I was enthralled. For most of the rest I was frustrated. Still liking it for the most part, but wishing the manipulated conflict between the two of them could be settled and we could get on with the rest of the action. The villain's part of the story ends up being wound up in a chapter at the end. I would rather have seen the couple in accord and the villain providing the tension for at least the last quarter of the book.
So, even though I criticize, I recommend this book. Emotional, humorous, sexy, and romantic. Just be ready for a little frustration in the final third. It's got a very lovely wrap-up though, and a sweet epilogue.
ETA: I think I've figured out what's been bothering me so much. Warren writes her leads together so well that when they're in conflict it doesn't feel right. I love reading them together. If they must be separated by some misunderstanding or stubbornness, I want it to end quickly, because what I enjoy most is them together. Their chemistry is so nice that it's hard to believe they could stay angry and/or unforgiving and/or distrustful for so long. So -- my deepest wish for this author is that she would experiment with having the couple remain together and in accord, but have to deal with conflict against them as a couple. That I would love to see.