As many who know me well, especially those in my book club and author friends, I normally do not read romances where the heroine is a courtesan. It’s my personal preference, I’m just not into them. Once in a long while, comes a story that really moves me. The Spitfire by Christi Caldwell is one of those tales that has me all happy inside.
Those of us who have read Christi Caldwell’s Wicked Wallflowers Series have met Clara Winters before. The former courtesan/madam is Reggie’s best friend and has moved on from the Devil’s Den. Her dream of opening her music hall, the Muses is just so close. Aside from a few construction setbacks, she and Reggie are on their way to being professional business owners and for a woman, that is quite a feat.
Henry Waterson, an MP and an Earl, has quite a few enemies in his repertoire… The staid gentlemen has ruffled more than a few feathers in his day with his legislation. It would seem that a few people even want him dead. When Clara comes upon two hoodlums beating a gentleman to a pulp, she steps in and saves his life. Clara’s mistrust of men is completely understandable, but her insistence in aiding the broken man is shocking, but just like her. When Clara discovers that the man she has saved is a member of the ton, an Earl to boot, she is terrified but resolute in the fact that she could not let him die.
Henry has never been in a situation like this. Being cared for in the apartments of this fascinating woman has perplexed him beyond belief. Instead of calling for assistance from family or friends, he begs Clara “with no surname” to keep him in her apartments until he is well enough to travel home. His ins in fear of frightening his mother and sisters with his injuries. Clara reluctantly allows Henry to stay, but she also has much business to attend to, with the impending opening of her club.
The few days Henry stays at Clara’s apartments, the two come to realize that many of their prejudices about each other’s stations and ways of life are not all they appear to be. Henry has a few revelations about how, as member of the ton, he always took advantage of the creature comforts of his wealth, but never thought if those outside of his level were even able to keep warm. When he realizes that he must return home, he slips out while Clara is out. When she returns to an empty apartment, she is relieved but also saddened, as Henry was unlike any man she had ever met in her lifetime.
Trouble begins when Clara receives a cease and desist order for the Muses, stating that her establishment is immoral and illegal. When she discovers that Henry is behind the order, in a fury, she bounds into his home to confront him. Henry never thought he would see his savior again, but Clara is not as happy to see him as he is her. Unfortunately, the dealing with her Music Hall are not something that can be undone and Henry has to fix the wrong he has done. Henry’s younger sister, who was hurt in an uprising several years prior has been a recluse since the tragedy, but hearing Henry and Clara go at it, she is awakened and seeks Clara out to assist her. With Clara and Henry’s sister working together, she and Henry also spend more time together, inevitably becoming closer and more attracted to one another, but can these two people from completely different worlds build something lasting? You know I am not going to tell you! Read The Spitfire yourself to find out!
Ok, so notice that I did NOT delve deeply into the fact that Clara was a courtesan? That fact is actually irrelevant to this story. Clara is a woman who was used and abused and one day said enough. Her hopes and dreams started to become a reality for her.
I really must thank author Christi Caldwell for taking me out of my comfort zone, but making me smile and make my heart full. The Spitfire is a fabulous read!