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A Courtesan's Guide to Getting Your Man    by Celeste Bradley & Susan Donovan order for
Courtesan's Guide to Getting Your Man
by Celeste Bradley
Order:  USA  Can
St. Martin's, 2011 (2011)
Paperback, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Susan Donovan kicks off the tale in present day Boston by introducing Piper Chase-Pierpont, a museum curator whose job is on the line if she doesn't come up with an exhibit that'll have patrons fighting each other to get through the turnstyles. Her task seems insurmountable until she stumbles across a hidden diary. The volume belonged to Ophelia Harrington, one of the city's most beloved icons, renowned for her charity work and her strong voice against any form of oppression. Piper quickly finds herself swept away by Ophelia's decadent story, that of a woman determined to live her life her way. She had defied her wards and Society's strictures to become the notorious Regency courtesan known only as The Blackbird.

Piper sees this incredible and yes, shocking, revelation as the perfect way to bring people flocking to the museum - and keep her job. But will the museum directors agree? The sudden re-appearance of archaeologist Mick Malloy, (a man she's lusted after since college) gives her enough of an adrenalin rush to not only forge ahead with her idea, but also use The Blackbird's steamy diary as a reference to seduce Mick as well as free her various inhibitions. In short order, Mick finds himself totally smitten by Little Miss Makeover, and more than eager to support Piper's exhibit idea with the museum's top brass, as long as it will keep her, and The Blackbird's Seven Sins, steaming up their bed sheets for many years to come.

Susan Donovan and Celeste Bradley are both fan favourites with contemporary and historical romance fans alike. Between them they've written dozens of great stories; A Courtesan's Guide to Getting Your Man is their first collaboration, and while the concept and initial hook is intriguing, it doesn't fully succeed overall, mostly due to Donovan's portion of the story. I just couldn't buy into Piper's overnight transformation from mousy introvert to slinky sex kitten - the shorter format, and a few too many secondary players, gave the characters too little page space to do more than fulfill their lust.

On the other hand, Bradley does a great turn with Ophelia's first person narrative, as The Blackbird sweeps readers back to the Regency era. Her heartfelt, beautifully written passages alternate between romantic (albeit extremely explicit for those who are easily offended) and amusing, and end with a neat and satisfying twist.

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