Black Sheep by Maren Smith
Dear Publisher, there are some formatting issues with this book. That said, I loved the story. This is one of Maren Smith’s best, I think. Right up there with The Next Ex, Kindred Spirits and Varden’s Lady. Leverton is a newly impoverished nobleman who finds that he must take a job. Accepting a position as an estate manager for a rural country manor, he finds his employer to be not only a woman, but one who is as far removed from the well-behaved, socially-refined young ladies that he’s accustomed to as her house is removed from London. And not just that, but there’s a mystery to be had and Elspeth will not be swayed in her humorous pursuit of it.
I very rarely do this, but I’m going to do it here. My favorite excerpt:
“Leverton!” she squeaked and slid backwards, her fingers raking deep furrows in the earth as she sank into the hole all the way to her chest.
He threw himself after her, scrambling to catch her reaching hands and clasping tightly onto her wrist a bare second before her shoulders fell into the mouth of the hole. Her other hand flailed wild and free for half a second before she managed to latch onto his arm. The full weight of her suddenly dangled at the end of his arm as, with another ominous, splintering crack, the hole widened again, swallowing the rest of her all the way up to his shoulders.
“Good Lord,” he grunted, his legs splaying for balance in the grass and his other hand frantically searching for stability along the ragged edge of the hole. “What have you been eating?”
Any other woman he knew would have either screamed or fainted; Elspeth was too practical for either. She simply clung to him, her hands like claws and her eyes like azure blue tea saucers against her too pale face. Her knuckles whitened where she gripped him, looking very much like his knuckles come to think of it. Thank goodness the hole seemed content with its present size, else they’d have found the bottom together, landing one on top of the other and himself face first!
She whimpered. “I should very much like to be pulled up now, Mr. Strathsford, if you please.”
This is a light-hearted spanking romance, and as such, there is some non-consensual spanking. If that bothers you, don’t buy the book. It did not bother me and, in fact, I wouldn’t mind having a Leverton of my own. I give this 5 stars because of what the author does best: excellent story-telling, witty dialogue, and humor that does not come off as ridiculous or contrived.