Reviewed by Mandi
I’m making an effort this year to read more self published books by authors I’m unfamiliar with. When this book came through my review requests, the blurb intrigued me. A wife disguises herself as her husband’s harlot? I had to know why.
This books opens with Lady Helena Harteford and her husband the Marquess of Harteford, or Nicholas married for one month. They have only known each other a total of four months, having married after three months of courting. Nicholas is new to the title of Marquess. He grew up poor, the bastard son of a whore and in violent circumstances. But he never gave up, and eventually started to climb the ranks of a shipping company, from dock worker, to now partner. But then the title of Marquess was dumped in his lap. And when he started to attend ton functions (something he is not comfortable doing) he meets Helena.
After a brief courtship, Helena finds herself on her wedding night nervous as any virgin. When the sex occurs, she screams in pain, and scares Nicholas off. Now a month has gone by and their marriage is extremely awkward. Nicholas hasn’t returned to her bed, instead burying himself in work. When Helena finds an invitation for Nicholas to attend a high-end brothel, she decides to disguise herself and follow him in. In an amusing turn of events, Helena ends up hiding behind a curtain, just to find Nicholas there. And It is there, in the darkness Nicholas has very naughty sex with her – but he has no idea it is Helena he is cavorting with. Helena can’t believe she acted like a harlot, but she also can’t believe how much it turned her on. Nicholas has very dark secrets from his past and Helena now has the secret of being a harlot, of which both feel shame.
Her Husband’s Harlot I believe is the debut book by Grace Callaway and for the most part I liked it. There were a few things that annoyed me but first let me tell you what I enjoyed. I love that the book starts with this couple a month into their marriage and everything is not perfect. It felt realistic. The sex was not wondrous and orgasmic on their wedding night. We have some nice conflict going on. When Nicholas sneaks off to the brothel, and after a series of events ends up having sex with his wife (who he things is some random girl) I didn’t mind that. I was excited to see how things would play out.
I also really like Nicholas and his poor past. He had to work his way up at the docks from a young age and now finds himself with a title. In the book he mentions he doesn’t feel comfortable having a working class upbringing in the ton, nor does he feel comfortable having a title as he runs his company. He is caught in-between two worlds and struggles with both of them. Very interesting to read about. This book also has an erotic tone to it that drew me in.
There are a few things that didn’t work for me though. First of all, it felt like these two (well maybe Helena more than Nicholas) pegged much of their happiness on good sex. Helena was desperate to fix her marriage, so she figured she must perform better in bed to make everything better. Rather than have an emphasis on getting to know Nicholas better or building a friendship. Later in the book, maybe the last fourth, Helena does realize trust needs to be there, not just sex. But it was a little late for me.
I also had a problem with Nicholas. So yes, he goes to a brothel and cheats on his wife. But then Spoiler
He goes a second time. And yes, it ends up being with Helena again (although again he doesn’t know it is her) and yes, he pretends it is her. But a second time of cheating? Really?
I feel like he needed to grovel more when he realizes Helena knew he went to a brothel looking to have sex. Helena apologizes for acting like a harlot, and although Nicholas apologizes, it is very brief. I expected more anger on Helena’s part that he actually sought out whores. I don’t care that it was really her. I also felt Nicholas has a very cruel edge in this book (yes he has a reason for it) and maybe a little more apologizing for that would have been appropriate too.
Final thoughts – I like this author’s voice and I hope she writes more. Even with the few things I struggled with, I’m still glad I read this book.