Here's the trope: headstrong girl in breeches needs to be taught a lesson.
Here's the twist: the headstrong heroine is smart, charismatic, and a skilled manipulator. Hard to trick or corner.
Here's the trope: Icy, self-controlled Earl with a dominant streak does the teaching.
No twist there. He's pretty delicious, actually. Stuffy and proper and used to getting his way. He's thwarted, in this case, because he's met his match--but, man, do I love an icy earl with a sweet side.
THE LESSON PLAN is a hot little number that traps the hero, Conrad, and the heroine, Freddie, alone in a woodcutter's cottage. Most of the novella is spent in the cottage doing exactly what you think, yet the lead-in is enough to understand both of the protagonists, to like them and believe that they'd suit.
The tone is light and airy--this is due entirely to the heroine, Freddie, who is cheerful and exuberant and very much in love with being alive; she really wins you over and carries you along. I believed that she'd gotten away with living this hoydenish, unconventional life for so long because it only took her a few pages to charm me utterly.
It's smart too--most authors would take this scenario, a heroine at the mercy of a pretend highwayman, and make the heroine feel helpless and outmatched. Freddie is occasionally frightened by what she's gotten herself into, but never helpless. At every step along the way, she and Conrad are equals.
This is a fun romp, a pleasure to read, sexy. Recommended.
Note: Jackie is a Twitter friend, someone I've met and liked. She was welcoming to a newbie (me? That's obvious right?) when we crossed paths in California at RWA meetings, and when I've asked her for advice, she's been incredibly helpful.
I was horrified to learn that her teenaged son died suddenly in a car crash last week. Courtney Milan and Beverley Kendall came up with 'Blog About Jackie Week', inviting other authors to chat about her books, take over some of the promo that she isn't doing while she grieves.
It's hard to show an internet friend that you care, that you support her, so I loved this idea. So far, it's been really enjoyable to execute, too.
There's also a memorial fund for her son, which you can find here.