From the time she was ten years old Miranda Cheever has been infatuated with Nigel Bevelstoke, Viscount Turner, ever since he told her she would grow into herself and be beautiful. This infatuation grows over the years and turns into love even as he marries someone else and has his heart crushed by her philandering. When his wife dies, Miranda is there to see his relief and his guilt over said relief and for the first time Turner looks at Miranda as more than a little sister. But he is determined never to marry again and distrusts love as he had believed himself in love with his deceased wife and that ended so miserably. Miranda is crushed with the knowledge that Turner will never love her, but she cannot help her feelings and Turner cannot seem to keep his hands off of her. He tries to avoid her, but during a house party the two are conveniently stuck in the rain and it becomes apparent that their relationship will need to change drastically.
But first Turner wants to collect his thoughts and a four day vacation turns into a month long excursion and while he feels guilty about what happened he knows that he will eventually marry Miranda as it is the right thing to do. Miranda is once again heartbroken as she thinks Turner has abandoned her and she does not want him to marry him out of duty, especially as she loves him so much and he knows of it. But even though he does not think he loves Turner, he is looking forward to being married to her as he knows that she will be a good person to spend the rest of his life with. He turns out to be right as they get along famously as a married couple, especially as they both look forward to the birth of their first child, but Miranda is still waiting for him to tell her those three words she needs to hear. As usual it will take almost losing her for Turner to realize that he can't live without this wonderful woman.
Julia Quinn is an expert at writing great characters that it is impossible not to fall in love with and Miranda and Turner are no exception. I loved Miranda as the bookish, smart, and desperately in love young woman. I admit I am always a sucker for romances where the heroine has harbored a tendre for the hero for years and he suddenly realizes he loves her. She handles her infatuation so well from afar and I liked that she told him so soon in the book. I also liked Turner as the older man who is coming to grips with falling for his little sister's best friend. His recovery from his ex-wife's deception was well done as well, and I liked how he readily aditted his (lack of) feelings for her. They worked very well together for the most part, but I felt as though the sex between them was lacking in both instances and in style as there was a lot of weird dialogue throughout it.
I am not really a big fan of books where the outcome is basically settled except for the hero telling the heroine he loves her. While I understand that words are important, and in this case, it really was a matter of the hero getting over his dead wife, I felt as though he did love her and forcing him to say it was really not a matter to take up an extra 50 pages. However, I loved some really great scenes between them that were really just heartbreaking as he desperately wanted her to be happy, but didn't know what to say. The banter between the two got a little awkward at times and he specifically said he liked her "fiery" which just seems a little odd to me as he apparently liked arguing with her. As usual Quinn wrote some great side characters in Turner and Miranda's families' and really she just always has a fun, fast-paced, writing style that I love.
Rating: An enjoyable book overall, but really nothing spectacular with awkward banter and some problems, with good well-written characters.