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17 April 2014

Short Story Review: The Affair by Lily Maxton

Author: Lily Maxton
Publication Date: April 14, 2014
Publisher: Entangled: Scandalous
Genre: Adult Historical Romance
Find It: GoodreadsAmazonB&N
Source: Publisher

She was his for one week only...

When a beautiful stranger ducks into his bookshop during a rainstorm, Cale Cameron, well-known rake, is instantly attracted to her.

Elizabeth, Lady Thornhill, is restless and hungers for something she cannot name. Society would never accept a countess and a mere bookseller, so they agree to a one week affair to indulge their desire.

As their passion ignites and their connection grows, Elizabeth threatens the one thing Cale has protected above all else—his heart. Letting her go is the only solution...and the one thing he is not prepared to do.

As an avid romance reader, there is something so satisfying about a novella that gets down to business quickly. The Affair is that kind of story. Lily Maxton quickly sets up the scene: a widowed and impoverished countess with nothing to lose who stumbles into a relationship with a completely inappropriate and rakishly handsome self-made man. Elizabeth struggles to reconcile society's values versus her needs; it's not difficult for the reader to figure out that love and lust will win out in the end (bringing financial security with it). As it is with so many novellas, this predictability is The Affair's greatest weakness.

Thrown into the mix is the new Lord Thornhill, her late husband's cousin, who is kind enough in his way and has made enough of a fortune abroad to restore the estate, but fails to incite the kind of passion that Cale can immediately kindle within Elizabeth. After a second brief and steamy encounter, a gift to make any booklover swoon, and a surprisingly pleasant evening spent in unsuitable company, she cannot resist his offer. Just as soon as she begins the affair, it is over.

The way Maxton builds the emotional stakes and just as swiftly knocks them down again is what kept me riveted and will keep me coming back to this novella. While Elizabeth takes some unusual risks (especially given her station and shaky financial situation) she never fully compromises her own integrity, and comes out stronger for it at the end. Cale is at once smoldering and sympathetic--and does it hurt that he owns a lending library, bookshop, and publishing house? In a longer novel, the new Lord Thornhill might have been a true contender, as there is nothing really despicable about him; in novella format, he clearly has no chance. Only the first of Elizabeth and Cale's encounters is fully described, but it was enough for me--definitely quality versus quantity.

Overall, I enjoyed this debut novella. While it doesn't hold any surprises, it delivers the three H's I usually look for in a romance: Heat, Heartbreak, and a Happy Ending. Maxton also sets up a few side characters that I hope she will explore in future novellas: in particular Elizabeth's bookish sister Olivia and the soon-to-be infamous courtesan Miss Forsythe (who is penning a tell-all for Cale's press). I'll definitely watch out for future releases (she has two more novellas coming out this year).

*I received this book free of charge from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This, in no way, affected my opinion or review of this book.

Visit the author online at www.lilymaxton.com, Facebook and follow her on Twitter @lilymaxton

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