Richard Lynstead is quite upset when Grace MacEachin accuses his father and his uncle (they're twins) of stealing money from an old woman and then framing her father for the crime. He is convinced that his father at least would never have committed such a crime, although he will admit that he cannot be quite so certain about his uncle. He goes to confront Grace at one of her performances as she is quite the toast of London as the gorgeous new singer. Grace knows that her father is not guilty of the crimes and she wants to prove his innocence, or at least get a small measure of revenge in the form of a blackmail payment, to prove to him that she believes in him. When Richard comes backstage she immediately knows he is self-righteous, stern, and quite a prig. He offers to escort her to Scotland to meet her father and judge for himself whether or not there is any basis for his story and Grace takes him up on the offer, wondering if there is more to this taciturn man than meets the eye.
Their journey proves to be an eye opening experience for both of them as Grace slowly draws Richard out of his shell and he comes to see this woman as a real person, and not as the fallen lady he tried to paint her as. Richard finds that he can tell Grace about his rather lonely and cruel childhood and Grace can easily see that he is a man of honor and a man she can trust. But when his uncle's agents turn against them Grace and Richard are left on their own and one cold night Richard finally loses his virginity to Grace. Grace is worried that he will now look upon her as a whore, but the truth is that Richard knows he has finally found someone he can care about- someone he hopes can care about him too. They both have feelings for each other and they must show the other that the feelings are reciprocated and not in danger of melting into thin air. But just as things seem to be looking up for them, the truth comes out and puts everything at risk. The two of them will need to work out their problems and carve their own path.
Grace and Richard are simply amazing characters that I completely fell in love with. Maxwell does an amazing job telling the story from both of their points of view so I felt like I was completely in tune with what was going on so that even if they were doing something I might not have agreed with, I could at least sympathize with their reasoning. Grace was truly independent (not the odd independence of many heroines) who could take care of herself. I loved that she willing to do some unsavory things to do what needed to be done and yet she knew that what she was doing wasn't right. She jumped in the middle of frays and actually came out on top a couple of times. Richard was just as awesome because of how tormented he was by his relationship with his father and uncle and being bullied as a child, and yet it did not affect his ability to fall in love with Gracie. Their relationship was so great because she was able to help him overcome those insecurities by believing in them and it was beautiful.
I loved the descriptions of the feelings they were each going through as he came to acknowledge that his father had committed some wrongs and she struggled with the guilt she feels over her original treatment of her father. An interesting touch to this novel was that Richard was a virgin (29) when he made love with Grace while she was not. I kind of thought, and hoped really, that the book would have gone in to a little more detail about this or had Richard and Grace have some sort of conversation about it. I also liked that, although she was a rape survivor, it had not completely ruined her ability to connect with another human without great sturm and drung. This book was entirely driven by the relationship between Richard and Grace and it made the book so great. I loved scenes between them where they were getting along and just having fun together and getting to know each other. No needless bantering or arguments that supposedly make their relationship exciting here!
Rating: Great relationship driven book with some great characters. I would have liked a little more spice or excitement, but very well done book!