Jennifer signed up to read this book for the RITA® Reader Challenge because she was looking forward to it in a BIG WAY. I think I just added this series to my TBR. Dammit, Jennifer.
Plot Summary: After two years, Grayson Bridlington, The Earl of Hawkeswell, has located his missing bride Verity Thompson. Coerced into marrying Hawkeswell by her duplicitous cousin, Verity fled London for the countryside. Now, the couple must make the most of an arranged marriage-even if it means surrendering to their shared desire.
And now, Jennifer’s review:
Writing a 250-word or less review was difficult, mostly because I wanted to spend paragraphs on my love for Castleford (he’s introduced in book 1 in the middle of a threesome; he only schedules business appointments on Tuesday so he can devote the other six days to liquor and sex; and, when he finally decides to make a contribution to society, it’s by writing a guide to the brothels and prostitutes of London. I couldn’t wait for his book!). But here’s the approximately 250-word review.
I picked this book for the RITA Reader Challenge in part because the Rarest Blooms (to which this belongs) is one of my favorite current series. But as I looked back through it in preparation for this review, I realized I’m not sure I can tell you why. It contains a number of elements I normally despise in romances: a alphole hero, a conflict that could be resolved in five minutes if the hero would actually just listen to the heroine, a meeker heroine, and seduction used as an arguing point. Yet in Hawkeswell and Verity’s story, these elements somehow work.
I’ll admit—I was predisposed to liking the book. Madeline Hunter is the author that started me reading historicals. And I think a good portion of it is the book contains one of my favorite characters of all times – the thoroughly scandalous rake, the Duke of Castleford (who gets his own book at the conclusion of the series). Castleford’s presence alone earns this book a high grade.
However, I’ve concluded that my love for scandalous rakes isn’t the only reason I love this book. The resolution to the story is extremely satisfying. Without giving a lot away, Hawkeswell makes a gesture of self-sacrifice that shows a conscious rejection of his worst tendencies. Verity’s meeker exterior hides a backbone of steel. It contains one of the best portrayals of female friendship in a series. And all of these are portrayed in a realistic light, always reflecting how the characters would actually act and how the rest of the world would react to them.