The story moves quickly which I like. There is abundance of entertainment that is great for this type of story. I love the characters. I think that they fit well to the plot. The characters are engaging with the story. The writing is good.
“Have you never been punished this way before?” he asked. “Your mother, perhaps? A schoolmaster or mistress? Answer without speaking.”
I shook my head, sniffling.
He walked around to my left flank, the riding crop in hand. To my further humiliation, without Lord Sculsbury impeding my sight, I could now see myself in the wall mirror. My face was livid pink, the blush extending over my shoulders. I looked down to where the contract had been. I saw only the table, nothing more.
“Keep your head up and your eyes open,” he said, tapping the crop over the wood next to my splayed fingers. “I want you to see the effect this experience is having on you. I want you to remember it, Patience.”
I obeyed. I watched myself, hair down in twin curtains at either side of my face, tremble before him.
“I would never do this without reason,” he said, running the flat leather slap pad of the crop down my spine, taking his time, starting at the back of my exposed neck, tracing the raised flesh at the center of my back in a slow line. “You have called upon the house of a gentleman without an escort. More than once, you have spoken out of turn. Do you agree that these charges are both accurate and fair?”
I nodded, miserable and afraid.
“Tap the table with your fingers for yes. Rap with your knuckles for no.”
I tapped once, using all four fingers. My back muscles clenched, a quick spasm under the caress of the crop. I whimpered.
“Have you any defense? If so, I shall allow you to make your case.”
I had none. I rapped the table. I was guilty.
“You’ll note that I, myself, have not touched you—only the crop touches you.”
He passed it under me, stroking my belly with it, causing me to draw in breath deep.
You never use it on your horses, I thought, desperate with dread. Why must you use it on me? I’ll do whatever you say. Let me repeat the promise. Please, allow me to appeal to your better nature. I’ll be good.
But I tapped the oakwood with my fingers, acknowledging his adherence to his own rules—and, in the mirror, saw my mouth open in a thoroughly horrified O as he brushed the thing under my breasts, then passed it over my erect nipples.
“Your father has never had the strength to properly correct you, dearest Patience. But I do. And you have the strength to bear it.”
This is going to hurt. God, save me from this—unless I truly deserve it. If so, God, strengthen me. Help me.
“Are you very wet?” he asked, withdrawing, setting the implement down and bending at the waist, leaning in to study me closely.
I tapped. I was most unbearably wet—at both ends. Tears blurred my vision, a mercy my own body and mind employed out of helpless reflex.
“You are so very beautiful, Patience. You are the loveliest woman I have ever beheld. To do this to you is torture. It will be a torture for us both.”
Had I been allowed to speak, I might have asked, Would my lord care to switch places?
And yet his words were a comfort. He was so sweet, so sincere.
“I shall savor the memory of it for the rest of my life.”
So unyielding. He recovered the crop and slapped the pad on the table, causing me to flinch. The sound had been like a pistol shot.
“Turn completely around, please, so that your feet dangle off the table.”
I did so, my bottom straight out. I stared down the length of the long table toward the door, as though I expected a cavalcade of soldiers to break through at any moment and rescue me. But there would be no rescue. Nor did I deserve one. I had come to him, not him to me. I had disobeyed my parents and willfully escaped the safety of my own home. Whatever happened now, I had brought it on myself.
No, Sophia. Do not think such things. It was not you who bankrupted your family. You are blameless. You are innocent.
But those were not the reasons for which I was now being punished. I had spoken without permission. I had disobeyed Lord Sculsbury.
“Present your buttocks for chastisement properly, Patience.”
I lowered myself to my elbows, pushed my rear up further, awash with expectation and shame.
He sighed. “You do not understand. It’s not your fault. Shall I help you?”
I tapped once, blinking, wondering how on earth I could make myself even more vulnerable than I already was.
“Don’t be afraid,” he said, taking my ankles and easing them, again, apart. “I shall not punish your privates, Patience. Not today. Not for first offenses. But you shall have no reasonable expectation of privacy, either, for the duration of your service—and I would have complete access to every inch of your buttocks. There, now. That’s better. You may lower your head, if you wish.”
I did so. This was … so awful.
“Remember, Patience, you must not speak. I will not forbid you from general noisemaking. What you are about to feel is going to be necessarily unpleasant, and you may not be able to help yourself. But no words. They would do you no good in any case. I care for my servants, but I do not spoil them.”
How many? I wanted to ask, teeth clenching. Will you not prepare me?
He swung the riding crop, cutting only wind, causing me to yell out even though I hadn’t been struck. I listened to his jacket come off, to him rolling up his sleeves.
“This is so painful to me, Patience,” he said, breathing heavy in his turn. Then, resigned, “But it must be done.”
Head down, I could see him from the waist down between my own legs. There was a bulge at the front of his trousers, long and thick. Was that his—?
And then the first blow fell. Directly across my right buttock the riding crop struck, eliciting a small scream that was as much surprise as physical discomfiture. I did not think he’d struck me nearly as hard as he might have…
But then the second wave of pain swelled across my flesh, a steady and increasing burn that caused me to audibly gasp. It was fire—and it was long, extending well beyond the leather pad at the end of the crop.
I had to say something. I needed a salve, or—
It came down again, forcing a proper scream from me as a second blow, without intersecting the first, heated my left buttock all across its length to where the pad landed at the crease of my bottom. And after, with my fingers clawing at the oakwood, a moan I could not restrain: “Ooooh…”
Lord Sculsbury, stop, I wanted to say. To plead. To beg him in the most pitifully supplicative tone I could summon. Stop, sir, please.
It was too much. I couldn’t possibly bear any—
Don’t, Sophia. Be strong. Be brave.
He brought the crop down. I squeezed my eyes shut tight, tried to swallow the noise from my mouth—which broke through on its own, betraying any effort at stoicism in suffering, laying bare my anguish for the entertainment of his ears, erasing my dignity.
For the first time in my life, I was being beaten.
Twice more, the riding crop fell. By then, I was a shuddering mess, my backside striped, my lungs heaving, my face and body slick with sweat and tears, my mouth uttering noises that might have come from a wounded animal. Surely no human being made sounds like that.
Lord Sculsbury set the riding crop down on the table. He pushed his sleeves back down, then drew his jacket back on. I watched him, my cheek pressed flat on the table. I dashed away tears. In moments, the pain wasn’t so bad, and I managed to quiet myself.
As for Lord Sculsbury, the bulge was still there. He turned his back on me. But his voice was nearly overwrought with sympathy when he said, “You—you never said anything. Extraordinary, Patience. Just extraordinary.”
You commanded me not to, I thought.
And when he turned again to face me, and then pulled up a chair and sat, I saw that his eyes were bloodshot. “May I comfort you?” he asked, the words dripping with tenderness.
I caught the sob, tapped the table with my fingers. He caressed my face, ran a hand through my hair. His hand was rough, and yet his touch was gentle.
I sat up, wincing most awkwardly as the flesh of my rear met wood. I took his hand. Asked permission with my eyes, my whole body still shaking.
“No, Patience,” he said. “Do not speak. It isn’t safe.”
Why not? Do you fear that the mere effort to speak would break my spirit so early? Or yours?
If I spoke now, would I ruin you, Lord Sculsbury?
But that wasn’t what I wanted. Not really. Not to speak, nor to ruin him. What I wanted, I simply took. He hadn’t said I couldn’t.
I reached out to him, slid from the table into his arms, and embraced him.
After a moment’s seeming indecision, Lord Sculsbury hugged me back. Had he wished to, he could have then “dishonored” me in every way that Father has long feared, but he did no such thing—though I was naked in his arms and absolutely helpless to stop him.
Instead, he held me tight and whispered words into my ear that I shall forever keep to myself.
"He is Master, and she is only Patience. Before the week is over, the once and future lady of Scrivenshire will learn to be his maid-of-all-things, and much, much more. In a world that prohibits women any say in their destinies, “Patience” must find courage and independence for the first time in her life—while Albion, if he has his way, will tear down the twisted traditions of his fathers and earn Sophia’s love." The writing in this book felt genuine and historical, I am a huge history buff and have read y fair share of historical fiction and more often than not I find myself not iking the "historical language" used but this wasn't the case with this book. It was a dark and steamy slow burn, and Im always down for a nice slow burn! Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for a copy of this ARC!
Deliciously dark and extremely enticing. This book was a whirlwind from start to finish and had me at the edge of my seat at times. It had a wonderful sense of peril and urgency on behalf of Sophia that really sweetens the experience. With smooth historical writing, this world was beautifully cultivated and made for an exquisite read. And might I say, Lord Sculsbury could make me sign a contract any day!
Lady Sophia and Lord Albion have a contract when her father’s finances are in trouble. She will be his maid-of-all-things. Will sparks soon be flying between them? Fast-paced read with loads of dram, suspense and sizzling scenes. Great characters, excellent world building and an entertaining story. I liked it.
This story both darkly deviation and beautifully romantic. The characters were well developed and engaging, and the world they were was both lush and slightly dark. A fantastic story set in a time period that a novel deviation for the author, but extremely well done.
If "historial" BDSM is your thing, this a a fun, spicy, quick read to enjoy. I am not sure overall period books are my thing but I did enjoy this one. It wouldn't be a book I'd reread but it was a fun one time read.
Thanks to NetGalley for the arc! I enjoyed this one but man was it difficult to read at times. While I know the intention was for it to read like a love story, this really had a lot of Stockholm Syndrome vibes going on, where the protagonist is forced to endure sexual humiliation and beatings in order to help her family get out of debt. But don't worry, her male captor loves her so he won't take it too far. Definitely a littleThanks to NetGalley for the arc! I enjoyed this one but man was it difficult to read at times. While I know the intention was for it to read like a love story, this really had a lot of Stockholm Syndrome vibes going on, where the protagonist is forced to endure sexual humiliation and beatings in order to help her family get out of debt. But don't worry, her male captor loves her so he won't take it too far. Definitely a little Beauty and the Beast but make it sexy going on here. That's not to say I didn't enjoy it, I'm just not sure I'd call it a love story going on here. That's not to say I didn't enjoy it, I'm just not sure I'd call it a love story
This was a very interesting book, so I think I am going to review this a little differently... - The premise of the story, Patience is to serve under contract for a week to settle her father's debt, was very different. I was at first taken aback and found the situation unbelievable (and that happened many times throughout the book) that society would allow this to happen. - I didn't really understand the relationship & feelings that Sophia and Albion had for each other BEFORE the contact, so I was confused when they started to "fall in love" during her week of service. - I thought it was very interesting to see how the various chores in the house were done; a cool glimpse into daily life at that time, - Sophia was an amazing main character! She was so strong and sure of herself. The trial was both a test of her love for Albion and her spirit. It was neat to see the sift in her demeanor and resolve as the week went along. - This is definitely a DARK story. There were a few times when I was thinking I should just be done. It was too much for me. But I HAD to know what else Patience would endure and if Albion was true to his word at the end of the contract. Overall, it was an interesting , entertaining read, but I will DEFINITELY need to read something light and fluffy to recover! Tropes Historical Romance, Regency Era, Alpha Hero, Titled Hero, Virgin Heroine, Dare or Bet, Loss of Nobility/Riches to Rags, Redemption,
This is a new author for me and this was an interesting read. In order to save her family from financial ruin, Sophie signs an unusual contract of servitude for seven days in Albion’s household. This story is about each of the seven days and what was required of her. In the end there is a HEA for Albion and Sophie but a lot happens first. I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and are voluntarily leaving a review.
Honestly I came for the smut but stayed for the story - idk if that’s ever happened to me before! It was just depraved enough. The characters were interesting and we got to know so many. The premise was unique enough as was the trials Sophia/Patience found herself submitting to. I did think certain scenes dragged on a bit too long but then when it came time for the real smut it was rushed or even fade to black, which was a strange choice. And the whole naked chores bit got old - not sure it was necessary to keep having those scenes over and over again. I think it was a bit too long but overall I really enjoyed it.
If you adore Bridgerton or Downton Abbey, but with a scandalous twist, this story is for you! The writing is masterful, the language impeccable, the plotline intriguing. The plot is definitely not for the faint of heart but so well written. The characters were vibrant and complicated and I enjoyed every one. Highly recommend!
In something of a departure from other D. A. Maddox books, this one is set not in a dystopian, religio-fascist future, but in a lush Regency past. Instead of a prison and punishment wardens we have a luxurious country estate and a conflicted Byronic lord with a tender heart and a wicked way with a riding crop. The heroine, a sheltered and privileged daughter of local gentry, chooses to accept the challenge of the seven day contract, serving a number of servant roles, in order to redeem her father’s debt. Her strength of character, willingness to learn and respect the labor and skill of those who have served her, gives this book a dimension beyond simple genre. D.A. Maddox always gives great story, memorable characters, a satisfying ride. This book is no exception!