This was a solid debut and I look forward to reading more from this author.
William is a rising political star, with the looks and pedigree to enchant the ton’s matchmaking mamas. He is focused on fulfilling his father’s legacy and making a name for himself as a reknowned orator and negotiator on the Parliament floor – he is not interested in obtaining a wife.
Charlotte is decidedly unimpressed by William’s rank or reputation. She is incensed when he accuses her of trying to manipulate him into an engagement. She reluctantly agrees to a fake engagement to keep the whiff of scandal from affecting his political ambitions.
The gossip rags ensure they must pretend in earnest. But when they both catch feelings, the ruse becomes real and neither one wants to end it.
My favorite elements:
The fact that William willingly turned over the reins to his carriage- this is definitely a rare occurrence in historical romance! He was indulgent without being patronized and seemed genuinely invested in teaching Charlotte to drive.
The in-depth examinations of parliamentary maneuverings. As a legislative history buff fascinated by the evolution of the law, I appreciated the attention the author gave to William’s political aspirations and knowledge.
I love a slow-burn romance. William and Charlotte are determined to deny the tender feelings building between them due to their unsuitability. As their orchestrated courtship is sabotaged by fervent kisses, breathtaking waltzes, and heartfelt notes, they realize that Cupid could not have chosen better.
Margery has already experienced the love of her life – and was profoundly devastated by its loss. She is absolutely certain that she will never find its equal, and has resigned herself to a life spent caring for others and burying her dreams. A malicious letter changes that. Suddenly, Margery must navigate an impending scandal and begins to question all of her own assumptions about the past.
Margery has no resources of her own. She is desperate to meet the demands of her blackmailer but has nowhere to turn. Enter Daniel. The enigmatic, battle-weary veteran whose social awkwardness is hampering his search for a wife. Daniel is a reluctant duke. He wants a wife for more than duty, but is convinced that his emotional and physical scars are repulsive. He knows that his situation is hopeless. Margery strikes a bargain with him – she will find him a suitable wife in exchange for a fee. The problem is that Margery has captivated him, even though she’s made it abundantly clear she is unavailable.
Margery is far from immune to the allure of the tall, imposing duke with the voice that is “dark and deep, with a delicious timbre that is as rich and mouthwatering” as the chocolate she consumes every morning. His injuries do not bother her- she finds him compelling and irresistible. And Daniel finds it harder and harder to suppress his yearning for the sweet, solicitous, entrancing widow.
I adored this slow burn romance with a scarred hero and a mature widow. I was heartbroken by the fact that Daniel’ s experiences in war have left their stamp on him – his use of a cane and his self -doubt were extremely realistic depictions of the emotional trauma inflicted on soldiers. I was touched by Margery’s realization that love doesn’t just come once, that the heart is open and resilient and has an endless capacity for care.
Their relationship is gentle and consuming and brings the solace and fulfillment they both needed.
These two broken souls who have seen the world trample on their dreams finally surrender to the possibility between them. They are forced to acknowledge it will change the course of their lives, and nothing – not blackmail, not self-doubt, not social expectations- can keep them apart.
Ophelia has known nothing in her life but loss, denial and hardship. Until she is rescued by Calvin, the enigmatic Earl of Carlyle, and given a job as his land steward. Under an assumed identity and an assumed gender, she becomes an indispensable part of his inner circle. She assists him in the running of his financial empire by managing a network of informants and spies. She adroitly bests him in regular bouts of fencing. She becomes a trusted confidante and adeptly avoids pursuits and situations that would sabotage her masquerade.
But one of Ophelia’s guilty pleasures is staring at his profile – and thank goodness he’s oblivious to her scrutiny. When her life is threatened by a series of unfortunate accidents, her employer insists that she take up residence in his luxurious townhome.
Ophelia’s disguise is revealed when she has no choice. But the Earl’s treatment of her doesn’t change. Until he can’t stop thinking about her. Or staring at her profile. And wondering at his previous blindness.
They begin a clandestine affair that is all Ophelia has ever dreamt of. But she knows they only have this moment, and is determined to make a new beginning once she buries the demons in her past. It’s up to Calvin to use all of his powers of persuasion to convince her that the only new beginning she should choose is one by his side.
I loved this story so much! Ophelia’s fierce independence and Calvin’s equally fierce protective nature were the perfect halves to a whole. I loved the fact that Ophelia didn’t conform to the traditional view of beauty, but was irresistible to Colin because of her courage and spirit. I loved the fact that Colin was a cinnamon Teddy Graham- he acknowledges his shortcomings, is loyal to a fault, and is not afraid to give his heart to a woman who is both strong and broken.
Being a grown woman and a single mom, and competently handling your shit on a daily basis doesn’t leave much space in your life for finding love. Especially when the only love you ever really believed in gutted you during a tsunami like obsession that only lasted for seven days and happened fifteen years ago. Especially when you have to battle the demons of your debilitating illness.
When Shane walks into Eva’s life again, the doubts and struggles of her past come roaring back to life. He is the one shining joy and agonizing betrayal she cannot forget. He broke her and doesn’t deserve her forgiveness- much less a redo. But they are still drawn to each other as if they are magnetized. They still strike sparks off each other with a single loaded glance.
Shane has spent fifteen years trying to escape himself. He has spent fifteen years running from the one jubilant moment he had with Eva. He has spent fifteen years self-medicating with alcohol. His addiction is a crutch he is finally conquering, and he sees every decision he made leading to this rare love story.
Whether they are ready to lay down their burdens in each other’s arms, to treasure the acceptance and solace they find in each other, will be the ultimate test.
There are so many things I love about this book:
The incisive, insightful summaries of personal struggle and redemption.
The unflinching portrayal of rising like a phoenix from the debris of a destructive, soul-stealing childhood.
The uncanny truths about mothering in the 21st century.
Here are some of my favorite quotes:
“Girls are given the weight of the world, but nowhere to put it down. The power and magic born in that struggle? It’s so terrifying to men that we invented reasons to burn y’all at the stake, just to keep our dicks hard.”
“Maybe they’d always be disasters- but couldn’t they support each other and grow together? No one was perfect! And maybe that was what real, adult love was. Being fearless enough to hold each other close no matter how catastrophic the world became. Loving each other with enough ferocity to quell the fears of the past. Just fucking being there.”
A rescue from a wrecked carriage leads to dishabille and disaster…
When Benedict rescues Amelia from her capsized carriage, he doesn’t think about the repercussions. He just knows he needs to find the closest shelter available and get her warm as fast as he can. She is pale, her pulse is weak, and she’s talking nonsense. Of course he still notices how delectable she is. But he ignores that side of his brain because he knows they are complete opposites. She is a spoiled belle of society and he is a self-made man- the result of an affair between a notorious noblewoman and her brawny footman.
She’s suddenly issuing commands like an ice princess, and the only way to quiet her down is to pull her into his lap. Of course the moment he is settling in, the door bangs open and they have the attention of an audience. Her father demands they marry – she is on the verge of receiving a proposal from a duke and she refuses. But her duke avoids scandal at all costs — and he can’t afford to wed a woman whose scandalous encounter is on the tip of every tongue. So Benedict does the valiant thing and rescues the reluctant damsel in distress. He assures her that their marriage will be one of convenience, in name only.
Amelia is flummoxed by her handsome husband. She wanted a spouse and a household she could control. She wanted a relationship that didn’t make her dependent or weak. And her husband’s glimmering gaze definitely makes her weak in the knees. She can’t help staring at his biceps, or how he fills out his breeches, She can’t help but admire his quicksilver mind and his accomplishments. And she’s falling fast.
He can give her the purpose and security she longs for, and she can give him the peace and confidence he needs. But first they have to admit how they feel and simply surrender to it.
I absolutely adored this lush historical romance with all my heart. A huge thanks to Netgalley and Forever for the chance to read it in exchange for an honest review.