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Provocative in Pearls by Madeline Hunter
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Apr 05, 2010

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“Provocative in Pearls” (Historical, Jove, 352 pages, $7.99), by Madeline Hunter: The second book in Madeline Hunter’s Rarest Blooms’ Regency series finds Grayson Bridlington, the Earl of Hawkeswell, trying to have his young wife, Verity Thompson, declared dead by the government.

Verity vanished immediately after their wedding, which was a forced marriage arranged by her cousin, Bertram Thompson, for his own betterment. Bertram pressured her into the union by threatening the well-being of the employees now under his control at her late-father’s factory.

Grayson agreed to wed Verity for her fortune, but hasn’t been able to access her money due to the circumstances surrounding her disappearance. Verity planned to hide until she became of age, then return to her hometown to request an annulment and take back her father’s business.

After two years, a frustrated Grayson – with a depleted source of funds – discovers his wayward wife has been hiding from him. Verity, believing her husband was in league with her cousin, had sought refuge at The Rarest Bloom, a private sanctuary for women.

In an effort to make the best of their marriage, Grayson strikes a bargain with his wife. He will forfeit his husbandly rights in exchange for three kisses a day if she will agree to return with him.

Grayson’s kisses help him establish an intimacy with his reluctant wife. But after a visit from Verity’s relatives, she is compelled to return to her hometown to check on her townspeople, including Michael Bowman, a man Verity had once thought she would marry.

Even though Grayson is jealous of Bowman, he helps to remedy the problems at the factory and gives Verity the choice to stay married or to seek an annulment.

“Provocative in Pearls” is a nicely crafted story about a fortune hunter and his heiress. While Verity’s repeated pleas for her freedom get tiresome at times, her dedication to her father’s company and its employees is admirable. Grayson, who had his own motives for marriage, is transformed into a selfless hero for the love of his wife.

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