Daphne Wade has had a very unconventional upbringing as she travelled with her father in the near and middle east digging up and studying ancient ruins. When her father died, Daphne with left with almost nothing, but she decided to fulfill the last commission her father had accepted and goes to England to work for the Duke of Tremore. Anthony was not expecting this rather plain and mechanical woman, but she is indeed the best and he hires her for the next few years until his estate has been entirely excavated. But it is not long before Daphne is head over heels for the very handsome and intelligent duke and she is using spyglass to watch him work topless. When Anthony's sister, Viola, visits, she discovers Daphne's feelings for Anthony and offers to take Violet away so she can get to know her grandfather, who is noble and disowned Daphne's mother when she eloped, and so she can be introduced into society.
When Anthony discovers that Daphne is leaving he is furious and confused as he does not see how Daphne could ever catch a husband, and unfortunately Daphne hears his tirade. She is heartbroken and decidesit is about time she start standing up for herself. Anthony is confused, but strangely attracted, to the new more vibrant and contentious Daphne and is desperate to have her stay on and work for him. The two have quite the little push and pull going with them bargaining for my time and it is not long before kisses and more becoming part of their little game. But Anthony is determined to have a dutiful and loveless marriage as his experience with love has been less than thrilling, and Daphne can not accept anything less than a husband who loves her. It will take some very interesting courtship rituals before Anthony can admit, and Daphne can believe, that he truly does love her in return.
First and foremost I have to say that Guhrke once again writes two really interesting and well developed characters who are completely suited for each other. I love that she can write female characters who have careers that they can really do and really add some extra something special, not just a charity or volunteer commitment. In this case Daphne is extremely educated and I always love that, especially here because it is one more thing that she and Anthony have in common as he is into the same things that she is. Her transformation to outspoken diva was a little abrupt, but it was explained away as that was the way she genuinely was and it was only her awe of Anthony that kept her from letting go. Anthony was a really well done character as well and I liked reading about the way his feelings about Daphne changed throughout the novel- from a stick-insect machine to the woman he can't stop thinking about.
One thing that was not fully fleshed out was his fear of love. It was discussed a little bit in the background, but for something that played such a big part of the novel there was no little scenes with him stressing over what had happened and how he could not fall in love. There is only a little sex between the two of them and it is pretty hot, but there is some nice buildup and the two are obviously very physically attracted to her. His desire for her lead to some really fun inner dialogue about the mistakes he had made in his relationship with her and how much he really wants her. I really enjoyed their interactions as they had some very unusual flirting rituals, including this great spell where they communicated through flowers. They were never truly mean to each other and while they argued, it was not mean spirited or annoyingly petty.
Rating: Two great interesting and unique characters who were perfect for each other and I really enjoyed reading the romance between the two of them.