Louisa, the widowed Lady Brookingston, has a particular personal problem. Despite a number of years of marriage to the man she loved, she's still a rather innocent virgin, and with the inevitable future re-marriage, she really doesn't want to explain that to her future husband. Not only that, but the sex talk her mother gave her was the "lay back and think of England" version, and she never saw her husband completely naked. Beyond farm animals mating she has very little clue about how things work.
Enter a one night liaison, arranged to privately teach Louisa that there's more to sex than uncomfortable coupling. Geoffrey, the Marquess of Swanston is a man of particular tastes in private, seemingly very few interests in public, and a strict desire for control in both. He has no interest in marriage, or really deflowering a virgin, but Madame Rouge entices him into a no-strings-attached one-night affair with a woman whom he cannot forget nor find.
Then their paths cross in their public personas of proper members of society, and with no way to verify the identity of the other participant without risk of scandal. With a growing attraction tempered by secrets and repressed passion, where will things take them? And how will the past come to haunt them.
So, the last book where I said there was surprisingly little sex? I think I found all the missing sex from that book in this one.
If you want a historical romance with lot of sex (plus lust and longing) throughout the entire novel and don't mind largely throwing historical accuracy out the window, this is a pick for you.
Seriously, don't read it if historical accuracy is more important than wild monkey sex. Side note, if you're interested in learning about historically accurate naughty times I recommend starting with The Steampunk's Guide to Sex (review).
So not only is Mastering the Marquess full of sex, it's sprinkled with somewhat kinky sex (and a lot more longing). Fortunately, for all his dominant leanings (and trends in romance novels), Geoffrey isn't a complete domineering asshole. Yes, there's some feelings of possessiveness, but without some publicly acceptable analog to pissing on her leg to claim ownership. His partner's pleasure matters, and when helping Louisa explore her sexuality he carefully leads her through things and makes sure she is OK with what they do. He checks in as he pushes limits, encourages her to admit what she desires (and explicitly does not desire), and builds trust.
So, there always has to be some foil, something trying to keep the lovers apart. They get it on very early on in the book, and tie the knot quite far from the end. So what's to interfere (besides misunderstanding)?
I'd say enjoyment of this book depends strongly on personal leanings and inclinations. As noted, the historical accuracy is questionable (but that's not uncommon either), and the sex is rampant. Kink is present, but largely they don't go super freak. If you enjoy the ambiance that historical romances provide this could be an enjoyable read.
Advanced Reader Copy copy courtesy of NetGalley; differences may exist between uncorrected galley text and the final edition.