Previously reviewed in this series:
The Lady Bliss Danser (sister of Geoffrey, Marquess of Swanston from Mastering the Marquess) has a bit of a reputation. More specifically she's a sneeze away accidentally entangling herself into some scandal or another at any point, and if she did, well, she is a Danser. When it comes down to it, Bliss finds the notion of marriage rather appalling (if not downright boring). Why would she want some man who thinks he can tell her what to do when she has the means to live modestly on her own and maybe even travel? Her brother puts a wrench into her plans, she has the option of marrying her childhood infatuation, Stephan Perth, Earl of Duldon, at the end of the summer, or finding her own fiancee before then. Bliss is undeniably drawn to Stephen, but the man broke her heart before and now keeps threatening to punish her.
Stephen Perth desires Lady Bliss more than any woman he knows, but he must not only win her heart back, but must find a way to reconcile his darker desires with her chaste innocence. A man who loves complete control in the bedroom yet is irresistibly drawn to the free-spirited Bliss. He agrees to help satisfy her curiosity about desire and to help her find another fiancee, if only for the chance to prove to Bliss' (and his own) satisfaction the he is the only man for her.
Bound by Bliss blends historical fiction, romance, and exploration of kink into a racy package.
Personally, I found Bliss exceptionally innocent (particularly in light of not only gossip but her "dear friend" the Countess Ormande, who had promised to take her to Madame Rouge's "gentlemen's club" (without telling Bliss it was a brothel, or what she used to get up to with Bliss' brother there). Stephen is rather presumptuous, with little differentiation in his domineering manner when playing with a willing partner or interacting with the lady he is endeavoring to woo (and from who he wishes to hide his kinky side). The villain of the story is obvious right off the bat (and to be honest, someone who also should be banned from Madame Rouge's along with the Countess), and a bit of a sexual Snidely Whiplash type character.
That being said, Bound by Bliss creatively allows Bliss to explore her own desires, and for Bliss and Stephen to explore each other, making for a very steamy read.
Advanced Reader Copy copy courtesy of NetGalley; differences may exist between uncorrected galley text and the final edition.