Rendezvous in Paris by Merry Farmer

It was a rocky road to romance for Dorothy and Marshall in The Duke from Paris (Tales from the Grand Tour book 1), but they survived scandal and blackmail to find their happily ever after. Now, in Rendezvous in Paris, it’s their brothers turn to find love. Lord Sebastian Stone and Damian McGovern are friends who’ve had their eyes on one other for quite some time. They definitely enjoy engaging in flirty banter.

But flirtations must be set aside, they have reason to suspect that the Dorothy and Marshall’s blackmailer may be at the masquerade ball, being held that evening in the palace in which they’re staying.

Damian dresses in an elaborate geisha costume that is so convincing that he and Sebastian are able to take a turn around the ballroom without the other guests being any the wiser. When their repartee turns suggestive, the two of them hastily exit the dancefloor to find a dark corner, but instead come face to face with Solange, Dorothy’s former lady’s maid and prime blackmailer suspect. They give chase through the palace but lose her in the dark passageways. Their investigation at an impasse, they head upstairs to Damian’s room to further explore their passions.

Sebastian is not at breakfast the next morning. While looking for him, Solange pulls Damian into a storeroom to explain her suspicious behavior. She is not the blackmailer and is on a mission to restore her family’s honor. As for Sebastian? She mentions that she saw him leave earlier on the road into Paris.

When Sebastian returns, he joins Damian and the other McGovern cousins on a leisurely trip down the Seine. Once everyone is aboard their well-appointed barge, Sebastian dodges the question of his whereabouts. Damian suggests that he can imagine a romantic future where they return to England to be together.

Distracted, the boat runs aground, sending the cousins tumbling into the water. After saving several soaked ladies, our heroes make their way back to the palace, find an empty parlor, begin to remove their wet clothes, and continue their amorous activities from the previous evening… when they hear a loud crash. They discover a peephole, a broken camera, and a secret passageway.

Sebastian fears it may be Fordyce, the villainous blackmailer who forced him to flee his home country. Its then that he receives a note and leaves once again. This time Damian follows him into Paris and finds Sebastian working as a waiter in a second-rate café. Sebastian may still has his title, but exile from England means he has no other income and is too proud to ask his brother for support. The two of them retire to Sebastian’s small room above the shop where Damian uses his powers of persuasion to convince him to join him (and their understanding family members) back in England.

Later, a note from Fordyce sends them racing out into the night. It’s on the crowded Parisian streets that they run into Solange who suggest that the blackmailer may be headed to the nearby offices of a tabloid newspaper. It’s on the steps of the office that our heroes, the blackmailer, and the powerful owner of the scandal sheet – finally meet. It’s Fordyce’s own greed that brings him to a bloody end.

Bedraggled but victorious from the evening’s events, Damian and Sebastian return to the palace and tumble into bed together. The couple are welcomed with open arms into the extended McGovern family, a happy ending to their story.

But what of Solange? She returns to service for the McGovern cousins. The quest to avenge her family’s name will have to wait for the next book in the series.

This Victorian novella is filled with passion and romance and adventure. Damian and Sebastian’s story was so much fun. I really enjoyed how they were able to fall in love, solve a mystery, and still find a way to steal a few private moments for some very spicy romantic encounters.

While this novella is the second in a series, it perfectly stands on its own. The previous plot points carried over from Dorothy and Marshall’s book are expertly explained by the author in a way that is organic and natural for the telling of Damian and Sebastian’s story.

To be honest, I was feeling a bit down on the day I started reading this story. By the end, Rendezvous in Paris had definitely lifted my spirits. Wonderful characters, great setting, a fast paced plot – Merry Farmer combines it all for an engaging and romantic read.