Proof by Seduction by Courtney Milan 210
Gareth Carhart, the Marquess of Blakeley, is determined to prove that his cousin is being taken advantage of by the gypsy fortune teller Madame Esmerelda. He is a completely rational and scientific man who lives his life relying solely on the evidence he can proof with his five senses- and needless to say a fortune hunter does not fit into this world. Jenny Keeble was left with little choice when she was abandoned by her protector but to try to make her own way in the world. She had been educated at a prestigious finishing schools where she had been ostracized by her more well connected peers and with no parents to speak of her choices were either to become some rich man's mistress or lie. Ned Carhart had come to her deeply depressed and, like all her other clients Jenny had told him what she knew he wanted to hear- and it worked; he got better and believes his life is worth living. But Gareth does not trust her so he enters a wager with her that if she does not successfully pick out his future bride than she will admit to her falsehoods.
But something happens between Gareth and Jenny as Gareth realizes Jenny has some fundamental spark inside of her that he has been lacking ever since his grandfather began to train him for the marquesship. Jenny sees the best in people, helps people become better person, and truly believes that Gareth is not better than her. With strong rational Gareth in her life Jenny comes to understand that while she has been helping some people there is a definite sordidness about taking money from people to tell them what they want to here. Jenny contemplates giving up her profession while Gareth contemplates allowing himself to feel something for another person, but Ned is still determined to prove that Jenny really can tell the future. His plan go horribly awry and in the culminating events Gareth tries to save Ned from himself and in the process discovers that he really wants nothing more than for Jenny to be by his side- keeping him from closing himself off to the world.
Wow- I really cannot believe this is a debut novel because it is seriously outstanding on every level. The writing is superb, from the conversations to the action to the truly great internal musings of the character there were so many paragraphs that I had to read twice out of sheer awesomeness. The characters absolutely blew my mind as they were so well developed, likable and sympathetic yet obviously flawed, and just completely perfect for each other. Gareth struggles with issues about his title and while normally heroes who have split- personality disorders (he doesn't really) seriously annoy me (and seem a tad ridiculous) but Gareth's problems separating his stressful life as Lord Blakeley from the man who enjoys studying scientific hypothesis are well written and not at all overdone so I can sympathizes without becoming frustrated. Jenny is a working woman- something I always admire in a heroine- and I love that she has been able to move past her lonely life at school to this woman who does so amazingly well with other people.
Jenny extroverted personality and ability to see the best in people is the perfect foil for Gareth's severely rational and scientific mind and vice versa. This makes their romantic relationship so enjoyable to read because the two complement each other and really throughout the book just serve to make the other a better person. Gareth thaws, loses some of his hauteur, and begins to look at life from a different perspective while Jenny learns that there are people she can trust and depend on without ever feeling inferior. And to cap it all of in wonderfulness this book is seriously super hot- these two really have trouble keeping their hands off each other and Milan writes them perfectly- full of passion and romance simultaneously. Even the side characters in this book are superb and the interactions between them and our hero and heroine really go a long way into developing both the characters and the plot of this book. Ned's little machinations led to quite the conundrum and apparently Milan is delving more into that her next book- which I am super excited to read!
Rating; Should be fairly obvious from my review. Absolutely loved every aspect of this book from the writing to the characters to the relationship to the romance to the sex- EVERYTHING!