|One Naughty Night is the very first installment in Laurel McKeeís St. Claire Family series, and itís guaranteed to leave you wishing that the second book was already published.
Lily St. Claire is our heroine, and she feels that sheís undeserving of her wonderful adopted family. Since she was a young girl, sheís lived under the protection and devotion of her loving, boisterous theater family. The St. Claires have always treated her with love and tenderness. Lily knows all too well the dark underside of London, and she still feels tainted, even as an adult woman, by the things she saw and experienced while very young.
Lily was born to a Frenchwoman named Sandrine, a prostitute with a wicked specialty, and Lily grew up in the brothel watching the seediness occur and her mother succumb to her opium addiction. When Sandrine died, Lily ran, only to be caught by Handsome Tom Beaumont, an awful underworld lord with terrible plans for Lily.
Now, itís been years since the St. Claireís found and adopted Lily but nothing she has done so far has been able to absolve her feelings of guilt about her childhood. Even her short lived marriage to the staid greengrocer Mr. Harry Nichols, didnít help. She couldnít be the very proper wife that Harry wanted, and when he died, she felt relief.
Now, ready to start a new chapter in her life, Lily, along with her brothers Dominic and Brendan, have started The Devilís Fancy, an exclusive gambling club. Lily feels like this way sheíll be able to help watch over her dramatic family while having a little bit of independence. The last thing that she expects to happen does when she meets Lord Aidan Huntington. The Huntingtons are old family enemies of the St. Claires, Lily has heard the old sad family stories since she came to live with the St. Claires and knows that Aidan will be bad news for her.
However, Aidan is nothing like what Lily expects from him as heís the son of a Duke, an incredibly handsome, sexy aristocrat. He surprises Lily at every turn, and she canít help but continue to see him, even though she knows that her family would be devastated if they knew about her new love interest. Just as Lily starts to feel confident about taking her own road in life, a vengeful Tom Beaumont finds his way back to London and decides to threaten the one thing that he knows Lily will do anything to protect: her family.
I loved One Naughty Night! The characters were wonderful, the story fast paced with lots of family drama abounding and the emotional and sexual chemistry between Aidan and Lily set the pages on fire.
Aidan, oh Aidan, I fell in love with him quickly as did Lily, but neither of us realized it until later. He was raw, strong, and super hot. Aidan was full on himself from the first page, impossible to ignore, and he didnít fall into any of the typical male hero pitfalls. His vulnerabilities didnít come off as weakness, he had his own aspirations and dreams and balanced them with his duties and he certainly knew who he was.
Lily is a more complex heroine than most and while she could have quite easily become tragic, she didnít as Laurel McKee blended a careful amount of steel, and wit into her personality. Itís easy to like Lily and even easier to cheer for her as she grows into herself in this coming of age tale. While this isnít a coming of age like Little Women, this definitely has a darker and sexual bent to it, but those are real elements in Lilyís adult life which need to be addressed in this tale and are.
While Lily and Aidanís clandestine courtship is explored, their colorful families swirl and eddy around them, providing a ton of interest and dramatic encounters around them. I sincerely hope that book two of the St. Claire series focuses on Dominic St. Claire as one of his detailed scenes in One Naught Night was not enough for me!
One Naughty Night is a love story for adults, it wipes the teenager-y sweet, virginal love tale into the dust with a stomp of Lilyís high heeled boot. If youíve been waiting for a book that does this, and beautifully, run (or click) to the bookstore today and pick up your copy. You can thank me later.