I must admit that I'm intrigued by these books... I can't say I'm hooked, but there's definitely a quality about Ms. Laurens' writing that draws me into a story and keeps me there. I enjoy the characters and the situations. I like getting to know more of the Bastion Club members as they play small roles in each book, helping each other out of the tough spots. What I don't understand, though, is how their club is helping ANY of the members for it's main purpose: helping each man to find a bride of HIS choosing. It seems they all get so wrapped up helping the "other" member resolve the mystery surrounding the woman of his choice (said woman stumbled into his path more than was actually chosen). I DO finally, however, understand how "Captain Jack's Woman" fits into the series. Jack Hendon was a guest star in this book, along with his wife Kit; Jack's not a member of the club - not the Jack of the club, but Tony, the Hero in this book, is the Antoine that Kit saves in their book. And Tony and Jack worked together through connections at the Home Office - the spy organization.I empathized with Alicia's situation and her solution to the situation. She was very unselfish and very first-born. When she starts to realize that she's subjugated her own dreams and desires for those of her family - and starts to realize that she resents it a tiny bit - I felt a distinct kinship with her. It's easy, especially as a first-born, to attempt to put everyone else's life to rights before turning to your own.I was a bit maddened by the whole mistress versus wife thing, though. Ms. Laurens helped us to see it from both Tony's and Alicia's view points, but HOW Tony would even think that Alicia would ever KNOW that he intended to marry her is beyond me.I also appreciated that, despite being a "widow", Tony was gracious about going slowly in their sexual explorations. And for a guy, and for most steamy romance books, this was slow, believe-it-or-not. But once he actually takes her to bed, the story focuses more on their nighttime activities (post-spying and post-balls) and less on the actual mystery. Supposedly, from the time of the murder to the time of the resolution is only about a month... or is it only a month since Tony & Alicia have become lovers? Either way, there are a LOT of pages and a LOT of nights that don't seem to add up to just one month's time. This was my beef with both other books in this series, too. Too much time goes by while the H/H are having sex. It's one thing to get wrapped up in the bliss of it all, which is understandable. But when you've decided (as the Hero) that you can't marry the Heroine until AFTER the mystery is solved, wouldn't you spend more time and energy on that? I'm just saying...But there's a formula for "getting a man", and Ms. Laurens applies it to the books in this series, at least:1. Be a spinster who's decided NOT to marry: There's always someone ELSE to look after... someone ELSE's dreams that matter more. You must be an independent, spirited, intelligent miss who's an "ape leader" or just "off the shelf" with family who needs you more than you need to be married.You've decided that marriage isn't for you - too demanding, too much loss of freedom. Even if and when you find a delectable gentleman (see #2), you may give your body but refuse to give your heart.2. While you're a virgin, you must be a curious virgin, willing to explore with a delectable gentleman... You must respond sensually, imitating his actions - giving as good as getting: Said gentleman must be somewhat "dangerous", strong, dictatorial, better than average looking, and definitely skilled in the arts of sex. He must be attracted to you, and make your senses reel when he kisses you - especially, when he deepens the kisses.Being a virgin spinster, you realize that this might be your *only* chance to truly discover what goes on between ladies and gentlemen behind closed doors. So, despite your vow never to marry (see #1), you're attracted enough and intrigued enough to to allow the delectable gentleman to have his way with you. How fast you progress depends upon him. But you must NEVER stop him and tell him that he's taking liberties (although he is, and you know it), and you must never play the fainting or virtuous heroine! No, your "need to know" and experience overrides any other logical, sensible thought in your head.3. You must be vulnerable and need his help - his protection and his expertise: Certainly, there's some mystery going on around you that requires his assistance? You don't necessarily ASK for his help, but you manage to confide in him about this "problem". No one else but you really knows about the problem, though, because YOU are the only one capable of sussing it out or realizing that it's a problem. But in this delectable gentleman, you realize, lies the capacity and talents to apply to the problem and make it go away.So, in short: You must let him know you need his help without asking for it. The problem must be one that he's infinitely capable of solving, and put you somewhat in danger - enough that he instantly wants to protect you, realizing that if he doesn't no one will. And you're just too darned independent for your own good. Without his help, you'll stumble into who-knows-what unprotected!Hmmm... sounds like stuff that I've been *told* works in real life. Although who would believe in the 21st century that a woman over 20 (a spinster - ha!) would be "off the shelf" and a virgin! LOL!OK, just had to get that out of my system. It amazes me how a bit of sensual "rapture" can so inveigle the senses of our Heroine that, despite her better judgment, she allows the so-called Hero to take serious liberties with her person! While the pull has been around as long as men and women, and I'm not naive enough to believe that the Victorian age truly had Victorian morals (or any age, for that matter), it just seems that every young miss was allowing every young man every liberty when they were alone. Which they were never supposed to be, until they were married. Huh!All of this sounds as if I didn't really like the book. Which is untrue - I did like the book, I just think these stories could be even better if they contained more actual STORY and less steam. There, I said it!