What Happens in the Ballroom
by Sabrina Jeffries
Designing Debutantes - Book 2
Publisher: Zebra Books
Release Date: March 28, 2023
Reviewed by PJ
A young military widow, Eliza Pierce is enjoying both freedom and financial success as part of Elegant Occasions. When her late husband’s best friend, Nathaniel Stanton, the Earl of Foxstead, hires Elegant Occasions to help another young widow of an officer become part of high society, Eliza wonders why. Is the woman a relative? Or is she the earl’s mistress and her adorable toddler his child? If so, why does he take Eliza in his arms every chance he gets . . .
Foxstead’s family situation makes it difficult for him to marry, so his visceral attraction to his best friend’s widow is an unwelcome complication. Burdened by family secrets and those of his commanding officer, he’s determined to do his duty even when it means being around Eliza every day. But how can he resist when the fetching Eliza keeps tempting him to break his own rules? For if he dares to expose the truth, will she ever forgive him? Or will she banish him from her life forever . . .
I have thoroughly enjoyed the first two books in this series. The sparkling banter, witty dialog, multi-layered stories, and food (oh my gosh, the food) are lively reminders of why I first fell in love with Jeffries' writing voice. And, as much as I enjoyed book one in the series, I enjoyed this one even more.
Generally, I'm not in favor of the hero or heroine keeping secrets that directly affect the other but in this case I understood Nathaniel's reasons. There were many lives that would have been impacted had those reasons become public knowledge. I also believed that he would have eventually shared the information with Eliza. I liked him and I especially liked how he treated Eliza (secrets aside) with respect, with care, and with you-are-remarkable-and-I-can't-wait-to-get-naked-with-you desire. Yes, siree, this grown-up couple is hot for each other and I am there for it!
I loved the affection and support among Eliza and her sisters, how they rallied to protect one another. But I also appreciated Eliza's independence and determination to take control of her life, whether as a partner in their business or with Nathaniel in the bedroom...or other rooms. She had been diminished too much during her first marriage and deserved a man who would honor her, celebrate her, desire her, and not lie to her. Her journey with Nathaniel may have been a bit rocky at times but it was also filled with fun, laughter, sizzling chemistry, swoony - if slightly offkey - grand gestures, and a deep, everlasting love. I was cheering them on every step of the way.
Next up is youngest sister, Verity. Her book will be released in 2024 and I cannot wait to discover if her hero will be the mysterious 'Phantom Fellow' who keeps showing up at Elegant Occasions events. Or, if not, how he figures into the story. In the meantime, I enthusiastically recommend picking up a copy of book one, A Duke for Diana and Sabrina Jeffries' current release, What Happens in the Ballroom.