Lucy Waltham has been in love with her brother’s friend Toby for eight years. When suddenly everyone declares that his engagement to a Miss Sophia Hathaway is guaranteed, Lucy decides she has to do something about it, and sets out to seduce Toby. First, though, she practices on Jeremy Trescott, the Earl of Kendall, who unbeknownst to her has begun to see her as a woman, not the foolish little girl she once was. When she kisses Jeremy, she gets a lot more than she bargained for.
While I liked this, it definitely had faults. Tessa Dare’s writing was surprisingly strong and carried me through the book without any trouble, and for the most part I liked Lucy and Jeremy. The falling in love was great, right up until the couple was about to get married (roughly halfway through the book). Then they decided that they couldn’t talk to one another and spent the rest of the book agonizing over stupid misunderstandings that could have easily been fixed. It’s like a lesson on how not to communicate in a relationship. Still, it was sweet, and my affection for the characters kept me going through to the end.
Sophia Hathaway longs to escape her stifling existence in England. So she flees her home and her fiancé to buy passage on the Aphrodite, a former pirating ship with a domineering ex-captain, Benedict “Gray” Grayson. Sophia wants nothing more to be her own person, posing as a governess called Jane on her escape. Instead she finds a person that she suspects will complete her, but how will they get past all the lies?
I’m a little wavery on this one. I liked it for the most part, but what bothered me were the constant lies. I couldn’t really imagine that anyone could base a relationship off total dishonesty, yet here these two are managing it. I kept wanting to shake Sophia and get her to tell at least Gray the truth, before it was too late. But it all wrapped up quite nicely (as these books are prone to do) and I did enjoy reading it.
Isabel Grayson has known that passion is dangerous from a very young age. Instead of seeking a love match like her brothers urge her to do, Isabel decides to marry a peer with influence so she can change the world. But then she meets Sir Tobias Aldridge, her brother’s wife’s jilted fiancé. Toby not only thinks Sophia is absolutely gorgeous, he thinks marrying her is a perfect way to get back at Sophia. The difficult part? Falling in love with his wife while her only love is charity cases.
This was a very sweet last installment in the trilogy. My only issue with it was Isabel’s reluctance to embrace her actual personality. She is so determined to suppress her own emotions that she is actually quite boring at times, but at least she had a good reason behind it. I really liked Toby and I could completely understand his frustration and attitude. And I was glad that rather than using Isabel, he genuinely liked her and enjoyed her company throughout the book – there was never anything as coldhearted as the summary implies.
I have to admit, though, the best part of this book was the sub-romance between Isabel’s brother and her doctor friend. He’s black and she’s white and I wanted to cheer that Tessa put that romance there. It’s not perfect; they’re both depicted as “flawed” people (his is because he’s a widower, hers because she is a female doctor in a time when women weren’t even allowed to be doctors) but considering the total absence of normal colored people in mainstream romance novels, I was very very pleased.
All in all, this was a really nice debut trilogy. Tessa Dare is releasing a new trilogy this summer and I just love the trailer she’s done for it. It just shows how creative you can be with a camera, a laptop, and children’s toys!
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