In the beginning, there were three sisters running Maison Noirot—now there is only one, and Leonie Noirot is determined she won’t be sidetracked by love as her sisters were. If only the Marquess of Lisburne didn’t have other plans…
Leonie, a dressmaker, is committed to keeping the family business at the forefront of London fashion. If that means turning an ugly duckling into a swan, she’s more than prepared to take on the challenge. When Lisburne escalates that challenge into a wager, Leonie can’t resist, despite the high stakes. If Lady Gladys becomes the toast of the season, Leonie will win Lisburne’s Botticelli, but if Lady Gladys fails, Leonie will owe Lisburne a fortnight of her exclusive attention at a location of his choosing. High stakes, indeed, and each is determined to win.
Leonie is an easy character to admire. She’s organized, smart, and self-sufficient. In addition to running a business, she’s patroness to a charity that rescues young girls from the streets and teaches them a trade. She’s also daring enough to quiet an unruly crowd with a dramatic poetry reading, and tactful enough to show Lady Gladys how to soften her hard edges and make the most of her natural assets. Lisburne is an interesting character as well. He’s made himself responsible for his trouble-prone cousin, the poet Lord Swanton, and keeps a close eye on his own estates, despite his assumed air of casual disinterest. When he meets Leonie, he’s far from disinterested, but just as logical and organized as she, he isn’t about to lose his head.
Although Leonie and Lisburne’s romance was satisfying to read, I sometimes felt the story lacked focus. There are a number of subplots—Lord Swanton’s poetry, the transformation of Lady Gladys, a blackmail plot, another romance—and that resulted in a rather scattered feeling. A premise like dressmaker sisters marrying nobility requires, for this reader, anyway, a tightly structured plot and well-drawn characters to keep me from focusing too long on the implausibility of it all. Vixen in Velvet sometimes fell short of that standard for me, but it was never less than entertaining.
Overall, I enjoyed the story and think anyone who devoured the first two entries in this series will be equally pleased with Vixen in Velvet.
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