I thought that Lavinia Kent’s Bound and Determined series had reached its finale when Ruby, the madame of the wonderful brothel that provided the backdrop for most of the other characters’ life changing encounters, found her happy ending in American sea captain, Derek Price. However, more stories emerged from the engaging world, and I wondered how Kent would finally tie everything together. Her latest novella, A Very Ruby Christmas, serves as a sweet coda to the world I’ve enjoyed since book one even though I don’t find it the strongest in the series.
Ruby is anxiously waiting for Derek’s ship to arrive on a wintery Christmas Eve when a mysterious pregnant young woman shows up at her door. Who could the young woman be? Why does she think Ruby can help her? And more importantly how is Ruby going to find the right person to take over Madame Rouge’s, so she can marry Derek and go to America with him like he has asked?
Followers of the Bound and Determined series will most appreciate that references are made to the other couples featured throughout, and two even have their own erotic interludes before the plot is fully resolved. Kent’s skill at creating scenarios that blaze off the page continues, and her desire to show that kinky play doesn’t have to end after marriage, even in a historical, is enjoyable. Derek and Ruby’s reunion also burns with passion, even though their sexual desires run a little more vanilla.
I’ve continually praised how female agency is dealt with through the entire series, and the tension between Derek and Ruby about her inability to find the right person to take over Madame Rouge’s continues the trend. Derek never forces Ruby, although he makes it clear that he will not wait forever, and he never stoops to using violence against her or withholding affection to push the matter (although he does get more than a little grumpy). Ruby’s dilemma holds equal value as Derek’s in the story; she is torn between her own happiness and the safety and happiness of her clients and girls. As someone who often feels responsibility for those I work with or consider friends I related strongly to Ruby’s concerns and saw how those traits had made her ideal to take over from Madame Noir.
Overall, A Very Ruby Christmas was a satisfying coda to a wonderful body of work that satisfied my need for something warm, soothing, but still very sexy. I’m fairly certain this will be the finale of the series unless Lavinia Kent decides to explore the new incarnation of Madame Rouge’s in the future. Regardless I will look out for more of her works since they hit all of the right notes for me.
4 Fulfilled Secret Fantasies out of 5