Updated: Sep 18, 2020
Thanks to a listener recommendation we have one of our steamiest reviews to date. Oliver is a Marquess looking for the perfect wife; a friend who can not only entertain him during the day, but also an adventuress wanton who will allow him to explore all his sexual fantasies at night. He believes he's found his perfect match in the mysterious diary he found on his property. Lily, the authoress of this diary, did not hold back in any of her entries. That being said, she's not looking for a husband, no matter how attracted she is to Oliver. Can these two turn a sexual chemistry into a marriage that can stand the test of time? We'll find out as we read The Scandalous Diary of Lily Layton by Stacy Reid. **There are SPOILERS on the street and even more in the sheets**
Pick up a copy of this week's book, The Scandalous Diary of Lily Layton by Stacy Reid, here!
Want to listen to a certain segment? Here is our outline this week:
0:00 - 07:53: Intro/Author Facts/Tropes
07:53 - 26:38: Synopsis
26:38 - 28:58: Parlour
28:58 - 1:12:40: General Discussion
We are now including our synopses as a semi-transcription of the episode in our blog posts. You can learn more about how we compose these by reading this article. As a reminder though, our synopses are FULL of spoilers. Read ahead at your own risk :)
The Scandalous Diary of Lily Layton Synopsis:
Our hero finds himself in a precarious predicament from page one. For he has found himself unable to stop reading a diary he just found with the most quote “lavicious and shocking arousing content.”
The authoress has confessed to some sinful desires and voyeuristic moments. And Oliver is far from appalled - in fact, he’s on the hunt for a wife who will share some of his more carnal desires, and he knows that he must discover the identity of the lady from these pages.
And he’s in decent luck - for he’s at home for a modest house party thrown in his honor, so the guests are limited. His mother has invited eligible women at his request, so he knows that the authoress must be from this group. Perhaps he will find a match after all.
The authoress has left a few clues in her writing, the biggest that she’s a widow. That narrows the field considerably. Second, she mentions having knowledge of the secret passages that weave through Belgrave - as she’s used them before to watch couples through discrete peep-holes. And third - she’s intimately acquainted with his mother, for she had been at the last two balls and a garden party the previous month.
Oliver is so intrigued because he really wants to find a wife, but his father, having problems in his own marriage, had firmly told Oliver that he should treat his wife with gentle care and use a mistress for his other desires. Oliver though has a very hard time wrestling with that idea - because he also watched his mother try to handle his father’s many affairs. He wants to be faithful to his wife, so he knows his only viable option is to find a woman who is as adventurous in the bedroom as he is.
So he resolves to spend the remaining days of the house party tracking down the authoress and convincing her to become his wife.
We then get our first interaction between our hero and our heroine when Oliver stops in to see his mother and inquire about the daily events. For our heroine isn’t actually a house guest, but in fact, his mother’s companion.
Oliver and Lily have met a few times before, but always very briefly and not frequently as she hasn’t been the Marchioness’s companion for long. However, each time Lily has found herself deeply attracted to him - and Oliver has also chided himself for inappropriate thoughts about her (for staff were absolutely off-limits to him), which has led him to always act a little frigid in her company. But this time, he notices that she’s out of her widow’s weeds, and Lily replies that it has been two years.
Once Oliver takes his leave, Lily is left to her thoughts while the Marchioness chatters away. Although trying to project a sense of calm, Lily is about to come unraveled. For she has misplaced her diary. She blames her absentmindedness on the shocking news that Lady Ambrose had delivered her earlier that morning - she no longer wanted Lily to be her companion. Not because Lily wasn’t a lovely companion, no, but because she had recently found a lover whose company she was enjoying more and more, and because she felt that the young, eligible Lily should marry again.
Lily however does not want to marry ever again, and can’t tell Lady Ambrose the honest reason why. Her first two marriages had been traumatizing in different ways - with her first husband dying quite young and suddenly and their marriage bed being unsatisfying, and her second husband, a vicar, shaming her for putting lustful thoughts in his head. Every time after a coupling between them he had forced them to pray on their knees for many hours. So no, another marriage was not appealing to Lily.
So now she has to contend with losing her employment, figuring out what happens next, evade the suitors that Lady Ambrose was beginning to throw her way, and hope beyond hope that no one (save for Lily herself) stumbled upon her diary.
After spending some time in the afternoon searching with no avail for her diary, Lily tries one more desperate location. The secret passages of Belgrave. Perhaps she dropped it there in the early morning hours? And so she hurries to the library and through the secret door that she knows of and into the tunnels.
But quickly she determines that her diary is not here. And while that is a blow...she is enticed by the moaning she hears through the walls quote
“She closed her eyes, denying the urge to spy on the earl and his lover. The first time she had heard the sounds, she had opened the small wooden panel, not certain what she would find, for she had never imagined that bed sport elicited such lustful cries. Her shock had been profound when she’d found the earl’s mouth on Lady Wimbledon’s snatch. Lily’s sensibilities had been distressed, aroused, and she’d been rooted to the spot, unable to pull away from the intimate display.”
But Lily’s decision to peep or not to peep is taken away from her momentarily - for just then she realizes that someone else is coming. Terrified as to how to explain her presence at the peep hole, she drops her candle, engulfing the passage in complete blackness, praying the stranger would pass her unnoticed.
But he doesn’t. And perhaps he actually answers her true prayers. For this stranger admits he didn’t expect to find her here….but here she is. He introduces himself as a “kindred spirit” and Lily is confused. His presence and voice and the dark are arousing - but she is also still nervous.
She politely declines to tell him her name, and he doesn’t press further. She tells him she wants to leave unmolested and he tells her she is free to leave. Yet quote
“her feet did not move, and she remained pressed against the walls, ignoring the chill of the stone. Who in God’s name was in the dark with her and why was she lingering in his presence? He could ruin her reputation. Though she hadn’t consented to remarry, she hadn’t fully given up the notion. She sometimes wished for a companion, a friend, a lover, and a happy home, but she wanted it with a man who would not make her ashamed of her sensuality and wanton cravings, and a man who would not terribly mind that she could not produce issue. If there could ever be such a man.”
And then he proposes quote
“Or you could stay, and we could just be.”
And Lily does, and a few more exchanges of information are made, including that the man believes her to be a widow (for who else would be bold enough to be in the passages), and a lady and one of Lady Ambrose’s guests. Lily does not correct him on this matter, and he tells her he will quote “Not insist on more until you are ready to tell me.” And then he admits that he found her diary.
Lily is shaken and furious and ashamed, but the man replies quote
I regret the discomfort I’ve caused you, but I do not believe I can proffer an apology, for without reading your diary, I would have never found you. I had the thought that perhaps there was a woman with whom I could experience the things I’ve long wanted to do with a lady.
And with that, the air around them changes as Lily loses her shame and gives in to her desires. And there in the darkness they have a very sensual encounter number one, full of consent and validation, her first orgasm, and quotes like this one
“There is a voyeur in all of us, from the maiden who wishes a glimpse of a barechested man to the gentleman who desires to see the delicate flash of a lady’s ankle, the shadow between her succulent cleavage, the flash of curls covering her most intimate parts. We all hunger for a taste of something forbidden, only some of us have the audacity or courage to act on those needs.”
But even after their soul-shattering coupling, Lily isn’t ready to reveal herself or learn who her mystery partner was. So she begs him not to follow her when she leaves. And he acquiesces.
Oliver, for his part, is shaken as well. He had been right - the authoress was his perfect match. And while he desperately wanted to find out who she was, he was one step closer and knows he will win her trust and hopefully her heart if he waits until she is ready.
The next day, Lily is headed to visit her parents in a nearby village for the afternoon and Lady Ambrose insists that an entirely unsuitable suitor should walk her there. Lily isn’t able to get out of it, and so they set off. On their way, they run into Oliver, who for some reason is drawn to them and decides to accompany them on their walk. He falls behind them a bit to observe Lily as she firmly takes Mr. Crauford’s backwards ideas and insults in hand once he discovers she is reading Northanger Abbey. Oliver finds her set down of the cad quite charming and well-done. He also quite appreciates her refusal of a marriage proposal from the man as well, but does not approve of Mr. Crauford’s rude reply, and demands the man make an apology before he departs, leaving Oliver and Lily alone. And then quote
She was so aware of him her skin felt sensitive, and she was striving hard not to show how nervous she was to be alone with him. Is it you? Were you inside my body last night, making me wicked with want? The words begged to tumble from her lips, but Lily remained silent.
And the two spend the rest of the day together, getting to know each other in the daylight, though neither believes the other is their nighttime lover. On the way home it begins to rain, and the two are forced to take shelter in a nearby hunting lodge....but they both resist the strange pull they feel for each other and make it back eventually without a second encounter.
They do however, make a bargain that day after they get to know each other. Oliver will finance her dream of her own dress shop if she agrees to help him choose a bride from the house party guests, and if she will sit for him, as he is a painter. Lily would be a fool not to agree to this boon, so she does, even though she protests her qualifications in the bride-choosing department.
The party progresses with Oliver realizing that only one widow has made his mother’s recommended brides list. Although there are other widows at the party, just one was deemed suitable. But something about Lady Falconbridge didn’t quite sit right.
And in the daylight, Oliver is still inexplicably drawn to Mrs. Layton. At the house party ball they waltz together to everyone’s shock and slight disapproval. During their waltz Lily mentions that she does not wish to marry again, as she’s already been married twice and it hasn’t worked out that well for her.
They also discuss his marital prospects, and he admits he is intrigued with taking a widow for his wife. Lily again insists that she’s a bad candidate for helping him choose a bride, so they bargain that she will sit for two paintings for him instead. As he’s already alluded to the fact that his paintings are scandalous, she asks him quote
“And has...anyone ever posed for you in the nude?” There was that dark, inviting desire coiling in his gut again. “A few” Something elusive pooled in her gaze, and she considered him in silence for a few moments. “And if I should ask you to paint me like that, would you take affront, or be intrigued?” It was his turn to stumble ever so slightly. Who was this woman he held in his arms? The few women he had painted, they had frolicked in debauchery together, but there was nothing sinful or depraved about the widow of a bloody vicar. Unless…”
Later that night, they both find each other in the secret passages. Without much talk, they pull together for a searing kiss in the darkness. And lily admits quote
“I have so many questions,” she whispered. “So many hungers. My mind has not been quiet, and somehow, I thought if I encountered you tonight, the uncertainty would be silenced. Instead, it has multiplied.”
Oliver tries to get his partner to open up, but she says that she doesn’t want to talk, only to feel, and so they do that for our encounter number two, which is a lot of exploring new territory and dirty talk of things to try in the future - things Lily didn’t know were even possible, but excite her to try. Oliver is almost overcome with the knowledge that this woman isn’t scared or intimidated by the desires he voices.
After the throws of passion, the two begin to talk...but Lily still resists anything too identifying….until Oliver playfully tricks her eye color out of her. But he earnestly admits he just wishes to know her, because his intentions are honorable and he would like to court her.
Lily is incredulous and insists that they are only matched in the sheets, and Oliver insists she explain why she feels that way. And suddenly, she realizes that her lover is no longer disguising his voice. She recognizes Oliver, but he admits he has her narrowed down to three of the five widows but nothing more than that.
And so she distracts him by asking him to call her a different name - Dahlia - and seduces him into encounter number three. And she slips away as Oliver slumbers afterwards.
The next day, Oliver finds himself bent over his easel, painting from his heart. When he stops to assess his work, it’s a combination of his mystery lover and….Mrs. Layton? Was it possible that they were one and the same?
And then a diary entry provides the name of one of the authoress’s husbands. A quick trip to his mother confirms that the name is the same of Lily’s last husband.
Now armed with this knowledge, Oliver isn’t sure what to do next. He had never suspected that his lover wasn’t a lady, and this difference of class presents a challenge for him. But he knows he needs Lily.
He finds himself later in the passages, peeping into Lily’s room where she is having a personal encounter for our fourth encounter. Watching her, he knows without a doubt that this sensual lady is his partner from the darkness, and when she screams his name he is relieved to know that she desires him with the same intensity that he desires her.
Lily can’t stop herself from trying the passages that evening….but when she is about to go behind the secret bookshelf in the library, Oliver enters. And gets to business immediately letting her know that he knows who she is. Quote
“For the last few nights, I’ve not been able to stop thinking about you, LIly Layton. In the days you smell like lavender,...but in the nights, I can smell honeysuckle wafting from your chamber. You walk in a room, and I am aware of every breath you take. You smile, and suddenly I know the sweetly sensual shape of lips in the dark are yours.”
And Lily surrenders, and they have encounter numbers five and six together in the library, where they explore new things together and Lily learns that she does take pleasure from anal sex.
Afterward, the two are enraptured with each other, but Oliver admits he cannot marry her but cannot let this end. And for her side, Lily truly understands and cannot let him go either. She is almost relieved because she believes that he deserves a woman who can be a good marchioness and provide him heirs, something she failed to do in her previous two marriages. So when he asks her to be his mistress, she doesn’t hesitate to say yes - on the condition that once he’s married they will end their relationship. And Oliver agrees.
So they go to town to set Lily up in a house and get her dress shop started. Soon, Oliver invites her to dinner with his friends. Lily is nervous since they know she is his lover, but he assures her his friends are unconventional and will love her.
The evening is a smashing success...and moves into the night, where Oliver gives Lily the chance to display one of her fantasies from the pages of her diary while his friends all watch them in the same room for encounter number seven.
This arrangement, however, does not last long. It’s only been three weeks or so, when while Lily is visiting her family for the afternoon, Lord Ambrose comes to call. He’d crashed his curricle, and it knocked some sense into his head. And in front of her family he asks for her hand. Lily loves him so, but is so worried and ashamed that she will not be able to provide him a child. However, finally Oliver wears down her resolve, and she goes with her heart and says yes.
The two are married and enjoy their honeymoon and marriage and friends. Encounter 8 is a voyeurism scene where they watch their friends enjoy anal in the library.
However, we know that secrets have a way of festering, and Lily’s fear of not being able to conceive finally gets between them after nine months of marriage. Lily admits that she may not be able to conceive, and Oliver is stunned. He hadn’t imagined such a scenario. Lily is distraught and tells him she will support a divorce or annulment.
After Oliver has some time to process the loss of that dream he tells her quote
“I do not love you because I hoped you would give me children, nor does that define the woman you are. I fell in love with your generosity of spirit, your unmatched sweetness and vigor for life, and your wonderful sensuality. I would be pleased if we were so blessed, and I dare say I would be happy. But not happier than I am with you in my life and heart. I do not feel the pain as keenly as you do, my sweet, but I implore you to give me the chance to grieve with you, to hold you close when it gets unbearable. I want to be with you when you are happy, and I shall certainly be there when you’re despondent.”
And so with that gem, our couple is stronger than ever. And then, we get encounter number nine before we get to the epilogue!
It’s been eight more months, and Lily is very sick...because she is with child. The doctor thinks that with the severity of her symptoms she is at a higher risk to miscarry so she has to enter her confinement early. But, this is a happy ending, and she closes our story with her final diary entry, to announce the birth of her twins Caroline and Alexander.