Rival Desires by Annabel Joseph
Release Date: October 7, 2019
Rival Desires, an erotic historical romance, in the
Properly Spanked Legacy series by Annabel Joseph.
Lady Ophelia’s voice is so lovely,
so incomparable, she’s permitted to break convention and appear on the London stage. The
young ingenue has more admirers than she realizes, but after long years cloistered at a
Viennese music school, she has no idea how society’s games of courtship and seduction are
played. The Marquess of Wescott is prone to bucking convention too—not always in a good
way. He and his friends are frequent subjects of gossip for their rakish behavior, like their
regular forays to Pearl’s Emporium, where lovers of discipline explore risqué fantasies in secret
Wescott and Ophelia’s fates
collide on a dry autumn night, when a fast-moving fire strands them together on the outskirts of
London. As the sun rises, they learn convention can only be stretched so far. They’re obliged to
wed in a quick, quiet ceremony, and embark upon married life as little more than strangers.
From the start, their dueling personalities tangle into knots of frustration and regret.
But marriage is marriage, and
they must learn to live with one another. Lord Wescott tries to bring his wife into line using the
disciplinary tactics he’s honed over the years, but Ophelia’s not so easily tamed. She’s a
stubborn soul, determined to resist her husband at every turn. Life is not an opera, and love is
For Wescott and Ophelia, the
battle has only begun…
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His bride-to-be stood looking out
the window, dressed in a maidenly white gown with a pale sage sash. Her blonde, braided hair
was pinned atop her head in the crown Hazel had described, baring her neck and slumping
shoulders. She looked so bereft his heart thumped in sympathy.
“So…you’ve told her we’re to be
married?” he whispered to her mother. He’d expected more of a reaction, at least for her to turn
“I’ve told her,” the woman replied
through tight lips. She took up a chair near the fireplace. Wescott approached Lady Ophelia,
remembering the bewigged sorceress of the night before, with her bright, full dress. Now she
looked small and fragile, in her gauzy, understated column of a gown. How could this be the
same woman? He clasped his hands and stopped a few paces behind her.
She turned her head to the side,
running small fingers over her pale throat. “I’m sorry, but I can’t speak,” she said in a whisper.
“My voice has not returned.”
“I’m sorry to hear
His own voice sounded too loud
in the silent room, especially after her whisper.
“I’m sure your lost voice is only
temporary. At least I hope so. At any rate…” He cleared his throat, feeling like an ass. “Thank
you for seeing me. I must begin by apologizing with the most abject regret for my behavior last
“Last night…” She repeated the
words in a pained murmur. “I cannot think of it. I cannot even look at you.”
He frowned at her exposed nape.
“Nevertheless, I am here.”
“Yes, you are here to perform
your duty, and ask for my hand. My mother says you are a gentleman, but I can hardly believe
Her whisper held as much rancor
as a shouted insult. “Lady Ophelia,” he replied, as calmly as he could. “Neither of us wished for
this to happen. The unorthodox circumstances, the fire—”
“Fire or no, it has ended in
disaster. I should have refused your assistance.” She shook her head. “I’m ruined now. That’s
the word, though no one is using it.”
“You’re not ruined, because I’m
here.” He grasped for patience in the face of her disdain. “Lady Ophelia, please accept my
deepest apologies for my conduct last night. It was wrong of me to lie down with you. That was
She pressed her forehead to the
window, letting out a breath. “I wish I’d made you leave,” she whispered.
“I worked very hard to ensure you
wouldn’t. It’s pointless to dwell upon it at this point. We must be married and make the best of
“The best of things.”
He barely heard her peevish
exhalation. Her shoulders drew up tight.
“Yes, the best of things,” he
repeated. “There’s nothing else to do…”
Annabel Joseph is a NYT and USA Today Bestselling
BDSM romance author. She writes mainly contemporary romance, although she’s been known
to dabble in the medieval and Regency eras. She is known for writing emotionally intense
BDSM storylines, and strives to create characters that seem real—even flawed—so readers are
better able to relate to them. Annabel also writes non-BDSM romance under the pen name
Connect with Annabel:
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Crazies R Us Book Blog – CC’s Review
Lady Ophelia Lovett aspires to become an opera singer until a fire ravages the theatre and wreaks havoc on London. Luckily for Ophelia, a mysterious gentleman on horseback rescues her. While finding a safe haven for the night, Ophelia and the Marquess of Wescott become entangled in unexpected and lasting ways.
“I’m not stubborn.” He laughed. “Not when you get your way. But the rest of the time, you’re a stubborn, annoying pain in my arse.”
In this historical narrative, societal expectations are apparent, as Wescott must do what is right to honor his family and Lady Ophelia. Because their pairing isn’t exactly what they hoped for, the dynamic between Wescott and Ophelia is full of ups and downs. While Wescott tries to be the dutiful husband, Ophelia rebels against which brings some kinky punishment her way.
“This is your penalty, if you won’t take your caning. You must show me how naughty you are.”
What I liked about this narrative is how it immediately draws the reader into the historical setting. Though Ophelia had certain aspirations, because of her station, she has to overcome balancing such pursuits with what is expected of a lady. Even with Wescott’s reputation as a rake, he rose to the occasion and was actually quite the gentlemanly and sweet at times. There were times when I wanted Ophelia to take responsibility sooner, but Wescott’s punishments kept me thoroughly entertained.
Rival Desires is a historical romance with an enemies to lovers element. Those familiar with this author’s work, will be pleased at how kink is blended into the story.
*An ARC was provided in exchange for an honest review.*