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This review is also available on my blog, Bows & Bullets Reviews
Linnet Holland's life has finally worked out the way she wanted. The man she has always fancied has finally taken notice. He takes her to the gardens to propose and that magical moment is interrupted by Jack Featherstone. The infernal man not only ruins the proposal and strikes her beloved, but he then has the audacity to kiss her right in front of her mother and as well as the biggest gossip in town. Her reputation is thoroughly ruined but she refuses to marry this man. She cannot marry a fortune hunter, she won't and nothing her family can say will change her mind. Jack knows he messed up by kissing her. He knows that it was the wrong move. He also knows that her Frederick Van Hausen, her "beloved" is not the man she believes him to be. He is the villain in all stories and he refuses to let another women fall victim to him. Now, he's determined to make it right. He will change Linnet's opinion of him and make her agree to the marriage if it is the last thing he does. Can Linnet let go of her first impressions enough to realize that Jack might just be the right person for her or is she doomed to suffer the effects of a ruined reputation?
I both loved and hated Linnet. I love her and her strength and determination, but how she adamantly refuses Jack when the audience knows that Jack is actually a good guy was infuriating. I like Jack and I want her to like him. Her reasons are solid and you cannot fault her logic. She wants to marry someone American. She doesn't want a English fortune hunter who will look down on her for the rest of her life and she has finally escaped that future only to be dragged back at the last possible second. She's angry and frustrated and I wanted to hug her and give her her heart's desire. But, at the same time, what she wants isn't what's best for her. What she wants would be incredibly bad and would not turn out as she imagines. And Jack's refusal to explain himself just makes everything worse. Even when she finds herself liking him against her will, she jumps back to the "he just wants me for my money" argument and all is lost once again.
Speaking of Jack, I just love him. I think I have a thing for historical romance heroes in general because they all make me feel rather swoon-worthy, but Jack was perfect. He's in a tough situation, as all romance heroes are. He has a high sense of honor and integrity and he's fiercely loyal. Then there is the whole his a handsome gentleman and behaves as such. I also think part of my love for him stems from his loyalty to his friends. He's that guy that you'd run to at 3 AM with a dead body and he'd come no questions asked with a tarp and tons of colorox to clean the mess (or the Regency equivalent of that). Watching him try to win Linnet over despite her determination to hate him just and me falling for him more. Guhrke really knows how to write a swoon-worthy male. I seriously can't think of a single novel she's written where I didn't love the hero.
Speaking of Guhrke's writing, she has me spoiled. Between her and Julia Quinn, I'm pretty much ruined for all other historical romances. I'm so used to their level of awesome that I just can't tolerate any less. In fact, I've gotten where they are the only ones I read from this genre! I think I'm scared that I'll come across another bad one or be disappointed by an author that normally does a great job. Laura, though, is a master of her craft and I'm always anxious to grab her latest book. She manages to give you exactly what you want when you want it. Or better yet, exactly what you didn't realize you wanted when you wanted it. The whole house-party set up in this novel is perfect. It's riveting, how Jack is going to make his case and get Linnet to fall for him. There is no if. This is romance, after all, and we know it's going to happen, we just don't know how. That's the beauty of romance. You are guaranteed a happily ever after, so you don't have to stress over that, just over how the hell these two are going to work out their problems. And it's a magical thing to watch. If only real life was that awesome. Le Sigh.
Anyway, what is there really to say here? Laura Lee Guhrke never fails to impress me. You'd think that after so many books, it would become more difficult to write an original feeling story, but she awesome has a tale that feels brand new. It's always written with heart and charm and wit. It always leaves me smiling. This is no exception to that rule. It's funny and sweet and heart-warming and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I can't wait for the next one!
****Thank you to Avon for providing me with an eARC via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review****