A Lady Never Tells by Candace Camp, 629
Mary Bascombe is the oldest of four girls and when her mother dies she and her sisters go to England to find their grandfather. Their mother had eloped years ago when their grandfather had disapproved of the man she wanted to marry. Royce Winslow runs into the sisters on the docks and while he at first disbelieves them when they claim their grandfather is the Earl of Stewksbury, but with the proof of their birth, he agrees to take them to the new Earl. Their grandfather died a year ago and now their cousin is the new Earl. And Royce himself is the stepbrother to the new Earl so he is happily no blood relation to Mary. The girls prove themselves to be determined and well able to take care of themselves and they quickly shock everyone by regaling them with stories of Indians and guns and performing their own chores back in America. Although he plans never to marry, Royce is beginning to think that being married to Mary would be a very good thing.
Royce agrees to accompany the girls on a journey to Willowmere and on the way Mary's sister Rose is almost kidnapped. The entire family goes on lockdown with the Earl, Royce, and their half-brother, Fitz, worried about what might happen, while the sisters are convinced they can take care of themselves. Meanwhile Royce is having a very difficult time keeping his hands off of Mary and while Mary is quite happy about this, Royce quite bungles things by immediately asking her to marry him because it is the practical thing for them to do. Things are not made any better when Mary discovers that Royce had been in love with another woman and she has trouble believing that he is completely over this other woman. Finally the sisters have had enough and set up a daring plot to catch the villain, but they will need Royce and Shrewksbury's help. If everything goes as planned, they will be free and clear- and Royce will have to convince Mary that he wants her for more than convenience; convince her that he loves her.
The relationship between Royce and Mary played out rather slowly and without too much romantic excitement really. The most intriguing thing about it was when Mary started thinking that he was in love with someone else as it really is common romance fodder for a heroine to refuse the hero because he offers for her for all the wrong reasons. I couldn't really get interested in that. Unfortunately not very much was made of it, there wasn't enough angst over it, and it was forgotten very quickly. Royce's turn around happened amazingly quickly as usual as, surprise Mary was kidnapped, and he realized he needed her in his life. Still I really did like this couple and there interactions together were fast, fun, and devoid of arguments or ridiculous banter. I wish there had been more of them and I wish there had just been more spark between them- there really did seem to be just a little oomph missing. The sex between them was warm, definitely not hot, but there were plenty of kisses.
The kidnap plot was very interesting and much of it was surprising with a few twists, however nothing completely shocking really. At first I was frustrated that Mary did not share her suspicions about who was behind the problems, but it did not really cause any long term problems. The best part of it was that we got a glimpse of how amazingly well these sisters were able to take care of themselves. They could shoot, they could fight, they could run, and they could wear boys clothing. There "odd" habits were not just cute little additions to show how spunky they were- but they were obviously genuinely written character elements that worked really well. The relationships between the sisters really made this book and were really just heart warming to read about. There was also a very cute and brief side romance between one of the other sisters and her sweetheart that was just a little extra cuteness to the story.
Rating: A fun book with some interesting elements, but I did not think it was particularly special and maybe a little too long.