SusiB reviewed this book for the RITA® Reader Challenge. This novel was nominated for best Regency historical romance.
Luck is a double-edged sword for brooding war hero Rhys St. Maur. His death wish went unanswered on the battlefield, while fate allowed the murder of his good friend in the elite gentlemen’s society known as the Stud Club. Out of options, Rhys returns to his ancestral home on the moors of Devonshire, expecting anything but a chance at redemption in the arms of a beautiful innkeeper who dares him to take on the demons of his past—and the sweet temptation of a woman’s love.
Meredith Maddox believes in hard work, not fate, and romance isn’t part of her plan. But when Rhys returns, battle-scarred, world-weary, and more dangerously attractive than ever, the lovely widow is torn between determination and desire. As a deep mystery and dangerous smugglers threaten much more than their passionate reckoning, Meredith discovers that she must trust everything to a wager her heart placed long ago.
And here is SusiB’s review:
I enjoyed this book a lot, even though it has one plot element that I absolutely despise and some implausibilities that I would like to rant about if it wasn’t for the word limit on this review.
The despicable plot element is the spontaneous marriage, although this time it is a spontaneous wish to get married. This is something that happens a lot in American romance novels, and I just don’t get it. A spontaneous marriage isn’t romantic. It’s stupid. Why would you want to spend the rest of your life with someone you hardly know or, in this case, haven’t seen in years? Rhys tells Merry that they’re going to get married on page 45. At this point, he still thinks that she finds his body repulsive, and he really doesn’t have any reason for wanting to get married. There’s no “I need an heir”, no “I need your money” and not even a “I need to save your reputation”. He just wants to support Merry, her inn and their village. I really don’t see why he couldn’t do that without getting married.
Despite this, the book is quite entertaining and enjoyable. Merry is the best kind of heroine. She has loved Rhys since she was a teenage girl, but even when he’s around, she never loses her common sense. Most of the time, she’s sensible and smart. She also knows how to go after the things she wants. I like Rhys as well. He’s not so smart and not very sensible, but he’s an interesting character. He can be incredibly sweet, but sometimes he’s violent and even brutal. In many ways, Merry is the alpha personality in their relationship, which I like. Last but not least, these characters actually discuss their problems. There’s a very refreshing absence of Big Misunderstandings in this book.