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Rogues & Remarkable Women

The Slightest Provocation

The Slightest Provocation, September 2006
by Pam Rosenthal

Signet Eclipse
Featuring: Kit Stansell; Mary Penley
352 pages
ISBN: 0451219473
EAN: 9780451219473
Trade Size
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"Passionate, emotional, extraordinary historical romance."

Fresh Fiction Review

The Slightest Provocation
Pam Rosenthal

Reviewed by Louisa White
Posted August 14, 2006

Romance Historical

Kit Stansell and Mary Penley grew up knowing that the best way to break their quarreling families' hearts would be to fall in love. Accordingly, as soon as they were remotely old enough, they did so. They eloped to London, where they learned that fierce sexual attraction and even love aren't enough to combat the strain of sudden marriage at such a young age. After terrible mistakes on both sides, they separated.

Now, nine years later, they live very different lives. Kit has distinguished himself as an officer in the military, and Mary has turned her clever mind to the intellectual world of social reform. When they meet by chance at an inn at Calais, all the familiar attraction resurfaces -- and it's made fresh again by the discovery of how each of them has changed. One thing that hasn't changed, however, is their explosive chemistry, and when circumstances bring Kit home, he and Mary are thrown into constant contact. Despite some talk of divorce, it isn't long before they're carrying on a secret, torrid affair, arguing and laughing and making love, just as they used to.

Kit's business in Derbyshire concerns a labor uprising, a political intrigue that threatens to overturn the liberty he holds so dear. Mary's intelligence and her reform connections become useful, and through working together, Mary gains a new respect for her formerly roguish husband. Time apart has taught them the value of forgiveness -- the danger they face in the present helps them to accomplish it.

Pam Rosenthal's writing is extraordinary. Fans of Laura Kinsale and Julia Ross will adore Rosenthal's ability to humanize her characters -- to render their emotions and reactions realistic to a fault, while maintaining a warmth that makes them sympathetic. Kit and Mary breathe. They also have sex -- a lot. The passion between them is what elevates the book above the somewhat stodgy backdrop of labor reform, and keeps the pages flying by.

Learn more about The Slightest Provocation


As children of feuding Derbyshire landowners, Mary Penley and Kit Stansell eloped against their families' wishes. But neither their ardor nor their marriage could survive their own restless natures. Nine years later, Kit is a rising star in the military while Mary has made her way in a raffish, intellectual society of poets and reformers. A chance meeting re-ignites their passion, but still they have very different values. Yet when Kit uncovers a political conspiracy that threatens all of England, they agree to put their differences aside. Amid danger and disillusionment, Kit and Mary rediscover the bonds that are stronger than time, the selves who have never really parted-and the love that is their destiny.

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