Having already read most of Amanda Weaver’s stories and loving them, it shouldn’t have come as a surprise to me that this book was abso-freaking-lutely amazing.
Anyone who’s reading this review and haven’t read any of Weaver’s stories, should do so immediately. I don’t even care which title you start with as along as you get to this one, and soon.
An excerpt, my review and a $30 amazon card giveaway is just after the jump…
As he examined her, she glanced back at him and their eyes locked again. She caught her lower lip briefly with her teeth. He wanted to bite her lush bottom lip himself. He wanted to plunder her perfect mouth and see if she tasted as good as she smelled. This was a disaster. For a moment, he was nearly furious with Miss Carson for being so desirable. He hated every single one of them for landing him in this impossible position. He’d cast off his family after University precisely to avoid this, the drawing rooms and prestigious, loveless marriages and stifling, hypocritical English respectability. He didn’t want a rich wife and this bloody title. He wanted to get up and run—back to Italy, back to his work, and let the duke hang himself.
But his sisters…
There was nothing for it. He had to wed this stranger, but he’d keep it the business arrangement it was meant to be. He’d be polite, he’d be respectful, but no more.
“Waring, I thought I might borrow you for a word in the study. To settle our details.”
Oh, hell, this was it. They were going to settle the terms of the marriage. He passed his handkerchief across his forehead, wiping away the beading sweat, and swallowed hard.
His father leaned across to him, reeking of Scotch, and he smirked as he whispered, “See? Not so bad after all. I wouldn’t mind a go between those lily white thighs myself.”
Nausea roiled through him and he dug his fingers into the settee. The idea of doing anything to aid this man made him sick. But it wasn’t for him, or his awful mother. It was for Louisa and Emma. It was their faces he focused on as his father stood up and followed Carson out of the room.
At the same moment, Mrs. Carson rose with a great deal of ceremony. “Perhaps I might withdraw for a moment, as well? The housekeeper needs a word.”
They were leaving him alone to get the job done. Despite the bloodless, businesslike nature of this arrangement, he was still expected to ask her. How the hell did a man ask a total stranger to marry him?
The story deals with the relationship developing between Victoria Carson and Andrew Hargrave once they’re set up for an arranged marriage. You can read about the book’s plot further down. I’m going to focus on my impressions of the various situations in the story.
The reason I said the book is amazing was that it has everything a novel should have, in perfect proportion all wrapped in Weaver’s impeccable way with words.
The drama and bits of angst were the most appealing part, for me, in the story. At first the drama is about Victoria who’s dying to escape her parents’ home, her mother’s critiquing eyes, never pleased demeanor and strive for superficial social status.
Growing up under Lady Granthan’s etiquette guidance Victoria is excelling and blossoming into a lovely, curious and educated young woman. Ready to get married she’ll take almost any one of her mother’s matches, only to have her father find her the perfect match in name and status.
Andrew, for all intents and purposes, hates his family. His father, to be exact. He adores his younger sisters and will do absolutely anything for them. Which is why he’s reluctantly accepting his fate as Victoria’s betrothed. And then he sees her and is instantly smitten.
At this point you’d think all will be well… only to discover Weaver has surprises.
When information reveals itself and their marriage progresses they are both put to a test. Andrew is fighting his conflicting feelings and Victoria is trying to very best to be the dutiful wife. In truth, his behavior towards her is horrible and for most of the book I was horrified in her behalf while waiting for him to wake the hell up and realize she’s as innocent in all of this (and by thing I mean everything I won’t tell you a word about LOL) as he is.
Both Victoria and Andrew grow as characters in the most amazing way. Andrew’s transformation is obvious and mostly external. However, Victoria’s character growing throughout the story is incredible.
Yes, she’s always been determined and knew what she wants, but Victoria has an incredible ability to adapt and adjust and use all challenges she’s facing to hers and her surrounding’s benefit. From a questionable woman in a world of men she’s turning into a respected, loved and admired individual, very capable of any responsibility her husband’s shirked away.
Surprisingly enough, While both characters are very much alone in their unique situations, both have incredible friends that form a great support system.
And yes, eventually Victoria gets all she deserves, her own home, family and genuine, passionate love.
This is one of the best historical romances (if not the best!) I’ve read, and I can’t wait for more of Weaver’s work.
** Carina Press provided an early copy for review via NetGalley
Victoria Carson never expected love. An American heiress and graduate of Lady Grantham’s finishing school, she’s been groomed since birth to marry an English title—the grander the better. So when the man chosen for her, the forbidding Earl of Dunnley, seems to hate her on sight, she understands that it can’t matter. Love can have no place in this arrangement.
Andrew Hargrave has little use for his title and even less for his cold, disinterested parents. Determined to make his own way, he’s devoted to his life in Italy working as an archaeologist. Until the collapse of his family’s fortune drags him back to England to a marriage he never wanted and a woman he doesn’t care to know.
Wild attraction is an unwanted complication for them both, though it forms the most fragile of bonds. Their marriage of convenience isn’t so intolerable after all—but it may not be enough when the deception that bound them is finally revealed.