Provocative in Hunter by Madeline Hunter 430
For two years Grayson, Earl of Hawkeswell, has been struggling to obtain the monies he was promised when he wed young Verity Thompson. Unfortunately right after the ceremony she absconded away and drowned in the Thames, but since her body was never found, the entire validity of the marriage is up in the air. Hawkeswell needs those funds to help those on his lands who depend on him. During an afternoon trip to the country with his friend he discovers that Verity is far from dead and has in fact been posing as young Elizabeth for the last two years. He is furious but Verity hopes that she can convince him that the best possible way to remedy the situation is to obtain an annulment and she will grant him the funds he needs. She had been coerced into the marriage by her cousin, who threatened to hurt some family friends of hers, and she did want to enter into a man she barely new so she ran away. Hawkeswell does not want to listen to Verity's arguments or proposals, but he agrees that in exchange for three kisses a day he will leave her alone.
Verity does not expect these kisses to amount to much, so she is quite surprised when she finds herself very much liking them. Hawkeswell wants his marriage to work out because he desperately needs the money, but even after he is offered the money, without the bride, he finds that he is not quite willing to give Verity up. He is not at all pleased that Verity has an obsession with finding Michael Bowman, the young man everyone had assumed she would eventually marry. Michael was handsome and he grew up in the world of the iron mines, so he was the perfect man for Verity. Hawkeswell does not like feeling as though his wife wants someone else, butt he more he sees her dedication to the people, sees the cruel way her cousin and his wife treated her while she lived with them, and sees how innocently perfect she is in med, the more he comes to realize that there may be something more important than his own happiness and the money he can gain. Only after he proves to her that she means more to him than anything do he and Verity come together with the knowledge that there was nothing left to stop them from falling in love.
I am torn between admiring Lizzie for taking matters into her own hands and running away from a situation she had absolutely not control of and disliking her for running away and not standing up for herself. I guess the fact that there really was nothing she could do because of her age and her gender, I am more sympathetic to her plight. So go her for running away. However, her ideas on how to make things right are obviously ridiculous from the get go and I don't quite understand how she could be so sheltered and naive after everything she went through. Hawkeswell was interesting as well, although I was still trying to figure out why his temper was so renowned and if there really was a danger of it manifesting itself around Lizzie. Oddly enough I found myself far more sympathetic to his plight than I was for Lizzie. I liked that I could really get a feel for the way these two fell in love with each other- I imagine I was that Hawkeswell loved Lizzie's dedication to her friends and her father's legacy as well as her innocence, while Hawkeswell really proved his love for her at the end in such an amazing way that Lizzie had to fall in love with her. I guess I'm just a sucker for sacrifices that prove love!
The writing style in this was different than I am used to with Hunter's novels, especially the sex scenes that were just very... perhaps the right word is flowery. They were quite plentiful, definitely not graphic, and really just kind of hinted in weird ways at what was going on. I wasn't really a fan. In addition this whole hoopla about the family friend/ childhood sweetheart should have been explained in much more detail from the beginning as I was halfway done before I really figured out why Michael was important to her and why we should care about what had happened. Luckily once I understand what had happened, kind of, I was definitely intrigued and wanted to figure out why so many young men in iron towns were disappearing. Unfortunately, this plot should have been much more complex than it was as there were conspiracies, workers troubles, and circumventing of the law, that I would have liked some more explanation of it at the end.
Rating: I can objectively look at this book and find redeeming qualities, but I just did not like it. My favorite part was the very end when Hawkeswell made that big sacrifice because of how much he loved Verity.