Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Little Bit Wild

A Little Bit Wild by Victoria Dahl 120

Marissa York is wild and reckless and very curious about sex so as the story opens, she is just coming to regret very recently sleeping with Mr. Peter White. The experience was nothing like she imagined and she decides that Peter will not, as she had expected, make a good husband. Unfortunately her older brother, Edward, Baron York, and her cousin, Harry barge in and disrupt her and demand that she marry Peter. She tries to convince them that is not possible, but with the possibility of scandal, not to mention a baby perhaps on the way, a marriage must be soon. Her youngest brother Aidan is accompanied by his friend Jude Bertrand, the bastard son of a Duke, who has had his eye on Marissa since he first met her. He offers to marry Marissa and her family accepts even though under normal circumstances they would never consider him. He senses a wickedness, a wild and naughty streak, in Marissa and he wants to bring it to the surface in her- just for him. Jude is unlike any of the other men Marissa has fancied; he is big and brash and is far from the pretty boys she has always admired.

Although he is not someone she would have considered for herself, she has to admit that there is something intriguing about Jude. He shows no signs of jealousy when she ogles other men, he likes her sexual side, and even his brutish looks begin to grow on her. Jude hopes to use sexual passion to entice Marissa into falling in love with him because he wants her with nothing held back; he will take all of her or nothing. Their engagement takes the storm by surprise as Marissa does seem to be marrying beneath her potential and causes both of them to rethink some of the assumptions they had made about themselves. Jude realizes he had been thinking himself less than his noble friends, the Yorks, and being with Marissa he discovers he is no longer comfortable thinking like this. Marissa worries that her past actions regarding Jude, like telling him he is not her physical type, will continue to come between them. But when the threats of scandal are past both of them must face the knowledge that they want each other forever and it has nothing to do with scandal.

I have loved Victoria Dahl's book in the past and this has been in my Kindle Cart for quite awhile, so I read it with really high expectations. I was immediately drawn in by the opening scene and how daring Marissa was and how willing she was to take risks because of her desire for sexual pleasure. I liked Jude for being wonderful enough to step up and offer to marry Marissa even with the possibility of a baby and because he was so different from her usual type. It set it up for Marissa to really get to know Jude and fall for who he is and develop new tastes. The relationship was really the heart of this novel as it grew from one of necessity to one that they both desperately wanted but feared that the other did not. Much of this novel was spent with the two of them interacting with each other, thinking about each other, or dealing with issues surrounding their engagement. There was steam between them and both of them were quite sexual, but there was very little sex in the book and it was disappointing because it felt rather desperate on Marissa's part was not as hot as I had expected from the rest of the book.

I don't usually have a problem with a heroine's promiscuity, let's face it the female is very usual at all promiscuous in romance novels, but I found it rather odd that she just had sex with a man because she was curious, with no thought to the consequence. It kind of made me like her a little less even while admiring her for throwing off the norms of society. There was a decent amount of angst about whether or not the other truly wanted the marriage to happen, but I felt like Dahl is not so good at writing angst and I found myself rather bored with it and wanting both of them to just get over it. I did like the plot involving someone blackmailing the family because it was interesting and contained a couple of nice plot twists. As usual in Dahl's novels the writing was superb; it was fast paced, it was fun, it was descriptive when necessary and it really created an enjoyable reading experience. Her secondary characters were superb, from Marissa's very dramatic mother, whom I absolutely adored, to her brother's, to the well-developed "villain" of the story.

Rating: A fairly enjoyable book with two interesting characters, but I know Dahl can do much better and I expect more from her.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Sex and the Single Earl

Sex and the Single Earl by Vanessa Kelly 118

Simon St. James, Earl of Trask, wants to invest in new factories and his future partner wants assurances that Simon will be able to provide enough coal to keep the factories running. Luckily for Simon he is already expected to marry Sophie Stanton whose family has been close to his for years. She is a scandal monger who makes impetuous decision and Simon knows he will have to be able to keep a tight reign on her in order for their marriage to succeed. Sophie Stanton has been in love with Simon for years but she acknowledges that he is not the happy and carefree young man she remembers. He is more concerned with avoiding scandal than ever, but it does not stop her from hoping that tone day he will love her as much as she loves him. While she is staying with his aunt's in Bath he decides it is the perfect time to propose. Before he can Sophie goes out to town where her family's heirloom bracelet is stolen by a beautiful young thief and, while he escapes, Sophie becomes determined to help him and safe him from a life of crime.

Sophie tries to enlist Simon's help and while he does not find it to be a very worthwhile cause he finally agrees, but only after obtaining Sophie's agreement that she will not venture out to find the boy without him. Sophie of course has no intention of following through on this promise and makes several excursions out before the boy seeks her out to return the bracelet. She discovers that Toby is in terrible trouble as his father is going to sell his sister to a brothel and she is more determined than ever to help them. Simon does not like all the scandal she is causing, but cannot manage to stay away from her and they indulge in one night of passion that seals for Simon that Sophie is meant to be his. Unfortunately Sophie is not sure that a marriage between them will work out as Simon is so scandal averse that she worries things will go badly when she steps out of line and because she does not believe he loves her and it does not get better when she discovers he also wants her coal mines. Simon must prove that he doesn't care about the scandal- only about having Sophie for his own; and that he loves her.

Sophie could be a little childish at times but she really grew on me throughout the story as all the things that made her childish were admirable traits. She didn't accept society's restrictions in her determination to go after what she wanted and help Toby and his sister. She desperately wanted Simon to love her and wasn't willing to settle for less and while she loved him she wasn't willing to compromise her own principles in order to have him. It was this quality that really made her so amazing and the only thing that really brought her down to me was her unswerving loyalty to Simon even when I felt he didn't deserve it. I did not understand why she was in love with him for much of the book, however he did redeem himself as the book went on with his possessive/ protective act even if it did go too far on many occasions. The sex between them was very hot and plentiful and worked well with the story as it brought them closer together and sealed Simon's need to have Sophie in his life. In the end I found their love for each other believable and the romance well written.

There was also a villain of the story in the form of Simon's ex-mistress, Lady Randolph, and as usual I found myself really liking a female villain. For some reason, I absolutely love them, but I wish that some of her motives had been better explained as there seemed to be a backstory that we were not getting. She served the purpose of providing more scandal that Sophie and Simon would have to overcome if they were going to be together. There were so many obstacles thrown in their path, several different scandal threats, Lady Randolph herself, and then the fear that Simon only wanted her for her coal mines. At first I was behind them as all romance novels need something to stand in the way of the protagonists or they'd all be 50 pages, but it did eventually begin to wear on me. There was so much talk of Simon working hard to avoid scandal and yet we didn't really see it happening in the story. By the end I was just waiting and waiting for them both to get over all of the things in the way and finally be together. Even the big declaration was a disappointment after Vicky Dreiling's How to Marry a Duke.

Rating: A better effort than her previous novel, and while I liked Sophie and her actions, I didn't like much else.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Lady Most Likely...

The Lady Most Likely... by Julia Quinn, Eloisa James, and Connie Brockway 113

Hugh, the Earl of Briaryly, is kicked in the head by his newest racing horse and knocked unconscious for a day. This serves as a wake up call for him and he realizes that it is time to get married and produce an heir so he enlists the help of his sister, Carolyn, Lady Finchley. She decides to host a house party for her brother to get to know several of the eligible ladies of the ton and invites a like number of males to round out the numbers. Things do not go according to plan as the ladies on her list fall for the other men. Gwendolyn Passmore is the belle of the ton and is accounted the most beautiful lady on the market but many think her cold and hard because she does not make friends. But really she is painfully shy and being around other people makes her uncomfortable; she would much rather spend her time in the country and she is dreading the house party where she knows she is being considered for the position of Countess of Briarly. Luckily Alec, Lord Charters, is bringing his sister to the party and after one memorable afternoon spent by the lake the two of them are madly in love, even if it angers his sister.

Miss Katherine Peyton is outspoken and is renowned for getting herself into scandalous scrapes. For years she had been in love with Neill Oakes, her brother's friend and her near neighbor, but on the afternoon she declares her affection he enlists in the army. Neill had been prepared to marry Katherine but her father had turned him down so he planned to go to the army before reapplying for her hand. Reuniting at the house party brings up all their old feelings and when they both admit they have been in love for years they can make a life together. Georgiana Sorrell has been widowed for 3 years but has no plans to marry even as she attends the house party given by her best friend, Carolyn. Hugh does not find any of the ladies his sister picked out for him to be suitable but he is starting to see his friend Georgina in a whole new light. After a passionate encounter in the outdoors he needs to convince her that a marriage between them can work out and that she is the only woman who could ever keep him from losing himself in his horses.

This book was different than most with multiple authors because it was not three separate stories that were each written by a different author. This was one novel and no part was credited to a single author and I was unable to figure out which part was written by whom. As is typical in these novels only a very short amount of space is given to each couple, but what is different is that they're all interacting together at the same house party and their stories overlapped. Two of the stories made sense of the shortness of their courtship by explaining that they had known each other previously either as funs or as secret loves. Gwendolyn and Alec were not known to each other before the party but it was obvious from the beginning that there was some sort of deep connection between them. I have read about shy heroines but never one whose shyness was such an important part of her personality that it affected everything she did and I found that an interesting change. All in all I found Alec and Gwendolyn to be a cute pairing of well matched characters who shared a much needed connection or they needed more time together.

Kate and Neill were secret loves from their childhood who weren't ready to declare their love and had to undergo some maturing before they could come together. Kate is supposed to be brash and outspoken and in such a short book, where it's not explained or explored, sometimes it comes across as rude and impolite. She did not undergo as much change as Neill who went from the rake about town to a promising and stately army captain. I rather fell in love with him a little myself because he was such a strong alpha character, and I enjoyed this story to an extent. I liked Georgina and Hugh's romance because it was the last one so we could see it developing slowly throughout the book and in a sense it had more space than the others. It was also the only story where the characters had sex, except for Lord and Lady Finchley, and while it wasn't exactly hot, it was nice to have in a romance. Both Georgina and Hugh were very mature and well suited for each other and I felt like they had a real relationship between the two of them.

Rating: A different type of anthology that suffered from many of the same setbacks; not enough time for each of the couples. As good as can be expected.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Never Resist Temptation

Never Resist Temptation by Miranda Neville 1226

Jacobin le Chastelux is furious when she discovers that her uncle has gambled her away in card game to the Earl of Storrington. She runs away with the pastry cook and takes a job in the Prince Regent's Brighton kitchens where she pretends to be a man. Anthony, the earl of Storrington, has been trying to ruin Candover since his own father revealed on his death bed that Candover had had an affair with Anthony's mother and eventually driven her to her death. He hoped that winning Jacobin would accomplish this, but instead he is left with no recourse but to hire the greatest pastry chef he can find in the hopes of luring Candover into another card game. He knows he must get the Regent's pastry chef and is stunned to discover that he is actually a woman! When Candover is poisoned by food she made Jacobin tells Storrington that she is Jane Castle and neglects to mention any relation to Candover before accepting the position as his pastry chef.

She is stunned to discover that Anthony actually has no need of a pastry chef as he doesn't quite like pastries. She is then horrified when she realizes that Anthony is letting his thirst for revenge control his life. It does not take Anthony long to find out who "Jane Castle" is and that she is very eligible and someone he could see spending his life with. Meanwhile Bow Street is still searching for the chef they believe poisoned Candover and Jacobin and Anthony decide that it would be good for them to do a little investigating of their own. Working with Anthony and seeing how honest and noble he is, makes it easy for her to succumb when he asks her to become his mistress. But when he reveals that he has known who she is all along, she is furious and refuses to have anything more to do with him. Anthony, however, is not going to lose the woman he is coming to love, even if it means moving beyond his obsession for revenge. Bow Street comes calling and it is up to Anthony to save Jacobin from jail and let go of old hate so that his new love can flourish.

It took me a while to get a feel for Jacobin and I could not figure out if it was because I felt like I had absolutely nothing in common with her, or if it was just that I found her cooking abilities completely unrealistic. I don't need to feel like I'm a twin with the heroine, but I felt almost no connection with Jacobin at all and I would have liked something to hold on to. I can say that she was a very intelligent, very capable woman who avoided being sassy or fiery while still holding her own with Anthony. I liked Anthony more than Jacobin as his thirst for revenge was a wonderful weakness that set his eventual change so much more wonderful. There was a lot of interaction in between the two of them and they ran the full gauntlet of happy to angry to scared and I really enjoy that in a book because it shows how well the two work together. Their relationship progressed very well and I could really sense that these two were beginning to fall in love and that it was genuine. The sex between them was really hot and I wish there had been more of it.

I really enjoyed the plot surrounding Candover and the supposed affair that he had been having with Anthony's mother. It was very well written, it was interesting and ended with a very nice and interesting little twist, and it provided an opportunity for Anthony to show how much he cared about Jacobin. Candover was a great villain and I like how his hatred of Anthony and Jacobin was explained at the end and that I was kept wondering about his motives. I was a little bit food-ed out after reading Delicious by Sherry Thomas, but was pleasantly surprised to find that food played a much less important role in the story, while still being well described and quite delicious sounding. I especially enjoyed the old fashioned recipes and historical details the author added through the food and the research she must have done. I also really liked the little extra bit about the marital problems between Anthony's sister and her husband and it lead to some nice family time where Anthony confronted his own issues with his mother, but I wish there had been more of it.

Rating: A very interesting book with a fairly strong relationship and well written characters with a wonderful mystery and great side plots and secondary characters.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Wedding of the Season

Wedding of the Season by Laura Lee Guhrke 109

Beatrix Danbury loved William Mallory her entire life and their engagement and eventual marriage was a foregone conclusion. But Will felt stifled by his life and the expectations surrounding his eventual inheritance of the Sunland Dukedom, and he dreamed of one day escaping to Egypt where he could explore his archeological passions. Two weeks before their wedding he was offered the opportunity of a lifetime and, thinking that Beatrix would be thrilled and willing to join him, he accepts. Beatrix is horrified and refuses to leave her father, her safe existence, and the life she has planned out for herself in England so their wedding is called off and Will goes to Egypt for six years. Beatrix was heartbroken but comforted herself by feeling secure, but when her father dies her life is once again thrown into disarray and she begins to take more adventures like the sort she took with Will when she was younger. She meets and becomes engaged to Aidan, the Duke of Tretham, just as Will comes back to England looking for more funding.

Will never got over Beatrix, or the abandoned feelings when she refused to go with him, and he is sad that she has chosen someone so safe and predictable when he feels she needs more adventure after living to satisfy her father for so long. Beatrix is furious at Will for returning right as her life is looking good again, but his return reminds her of all the fun they had and all the reasons she fell in love with him in the first place. It isn't long before Will knows he wants Beatrix back; he wants to teach her to be adventurous again and take her with him to Egypt. Beatrix is still scared of taking the plunge and worried about breaking things off with Aidan, but when one adventure goes too far everyone is forced to admit that her marriage to Aidan was always an impossibility because she can never feel for him what she felt for Will. Will knows without a doubt that he loves Beatrix but he cannot give up his life long dream of discover King Tut's tomb and he wants desperately to convince Beatrix to finally take the chance of a lifetime. Beatrix must finally step out of her safe existence and discover for herself that taking a big leap of faith is worth it to spend her life with the man she loves.

I am a sucker for romances where the hero and heroine are long lost lovers because it provides wonderful amounts of angst and often involves copious introspection on the part of both of the characters that results in great character development. We get to see these characters as they were as children, as they were during the first blush of youth, and as they fell in love all over again. Beatrix is wonderful as the fearful and yet secretly adventurous woman who wants a family and the predictable English aristocratic life. Will is also great, although less well developed, as the explorer who wants to buck the system and carve out a new life. Beatrix is perfect for the adventurous Will and they both bring out the best in each other and while he makes her take risks, she makes him see the benefit of a more safe life. I do wish they had spent more time together that wasn't relegated to him making her take risks though and I really wish there had been more sex between these two. There were a few lukewarm scenes and only one completed scene and none of it was precisely hot. But it was clear that both of them genuinely loved the other and I did like that.

I do not like a book where the hero jilts the heroine and what made this book so great was that they both were equally jilted and felt the other was responsible for their breakup. And it was easy to see the situation from both sides as I empathized with Beatrix for wanting it safe and respecting English tradition and with Will who wanted adventure and to find a way out of the dying aristocracy. It made sense for Beatrix to expect Will to stay and for Will to expect Beatrix to follow him so I felt like it was not correct to blame one of them for what happened more than the other. I liked that the book did not make either Beatrix for being fearful and wanting security or Will who wanted adventure and a new life, out to be wrong or a villain- they just wanted different things. While the end could not be a compromise between their choices, the right choice won out in the end and it was a choice that made both of them happy. As usual I enjoyed Guhrke's writing style, but I still felt like the book went very slowly and kind of dragged overall. However, I am very much looking forward to reading the sequel to this, which tells Aidan's story.

Rating: A great exploration of two very different people forming a loving, balanced relationship, but I was still bored by the book at times.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

How to Marry a Duke

How to Marry a Duke by Vicky Dreiling 106

Tessa Mansfield has resigned herself to remaining unmarried but that does not stop her from arranging marriages for the wallflowers of the ton. Tristan, the Duke of Shelbourne, has recently restored his family fortunes after his wastrel father gambled it away, and has decided it is time to marry. He is intrigued by the voluptuous beauty he meets at a ball, but when he learns who she is he realizes she is off limits and hires her to make a match for him. Tristan wants a quick, painless, courtship and hopes to find a woman he desires as he does not want to become like his father and go philandering all over town. Tessa's parents had had a love match and she only arranges marriages that are founded in love so she decides to surprise Tristan and sets up an arrangement she hopes will lead him to find a woman he can love. She chooses 24 of the ton's most eligible ladies and they will all "compete" to win the hand of the duke. Tristan is not at all pleased with this turn of events, but agrees to the bizarre courtship, partly because it means he will get to spend more time with Tessa.

Although Tessa is loath to admit it, she is enjoying spending time with Tristan and it is not long before they are pushing the boundaries of propriety by meeting in private to discuss the courtship, where both of them take advantage of the opportunity to admire and get to know the other. As time goes on Tessa discovers that watching Tristan flirt with the pretty young girls in the ton turns her stomach, but she knows that she will have to get used to it. Tessa is thrown for a loop when Richard Mortland, her best friend's brother and her childhood "sweetheart," returns from being presumed dead. Richard seduced Tessa when she was younger and she was crushed when she learned he only wanted her for her money and now he is threatening to reveal their past if she does not marry him. Tristan senses that something is wrong and wants to help this woman who has come to mean so much to him, but things come to a head one night and Tristan is furious when he learns the truth. He must make one beautiful attempt to win her back and prove that she is the greatest matchmaker when making marriages based in love.

I was really excited to discover a debut author and reading the back blurb made me really hope that I'd found a winner and I wasn't really disappointed as the book was excellent for a debut. Tessa was wonderful and even though at times she could be starry eyed, such as her desire to only match marriages for love, but overall she was incredibly intelligent, self assured, and realistic about her life. I also liked how she rooted for the underdog and her desire to see the wallflowers married off was genuine and I liked how dedicated she is to her job. While it may seem like she threw away happiness too quickly because of her lost virginity, to me it seemed more true to life than the books where the heroine loses her virginity in Victorian England and everything is okey-dokey. When consequences surfaced she dealt with them very well, and I absolutely loved that she sought help to solve them, and didn't try to do it herself like so many heroines. The Richard Mortland plot was very well done and provided an opportunity for Tristan to shine as the perfect hero for Tessa.

Tristan was just as great and I loved reading about the changes he underwent throughout the novel as he came to realize that he did want a marriage with love. He cared about the feelings of others and he made so many decision based on keeping the girls in the competition happy and it showed that he respected Tessa's opinions. He proved himself the alfa hero when Tessa was in need and I loved his possessive/ protective feelings towards her and how take charge he was when his woman was threatened. And I don't want to put out any spoilers, but the end was my absolute favorite happy ending scene I've ever read; it was so romantic and made me fall in love with the characters all over again. Tristan and Tessa were incredibly attracted to each other and there were some scorching hot scenes between them, but unfortunately no sex until the VERY end, which was disappointing. There were times when the writing seemed a bit sloppy in the form of an information dump or awkward conversations between characters, but overall it went smoothly and was a fun and fast read.

Rating: I very much enjoyed this book, especially Tristan and the happily ever after, but the absurdity of the bridal competition and some sloppy writing kept it from being perfect.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

A Taste of Desire

A Taste of Desire by Beverley Kendall 103 

Lady Amelia Bertram disliked Thomas Armstrong since she first met him and even though she finds him very attractive, she wastes no time in making sure everyone knows of her dislike for him. Despite his initial attraction to Amelia, her prickly exterior and bad judgement calls have led him to avoid her at all costs. Unfortunately his dealings with her father, Harry, make this difficult and when Harry goes to America he begs Thomas to take care of Amelia in his absence. Thomas refuses until he overhears Amelia loudly and publicly belittling his rumored prowess in the bedchamber. With the help of his friend, Alex, Thomas decides to teach Amelia a lesson by watching her while her father is gone, making her work for him, and seducing her until she begs him to take her. Amelia is horrified at the prospect of staying with Thomas, but when her father threatens to send her to stay with nuns, she reluctantly agrees. Thomas' mother and sisters are going to be her chaperones and around her Amelia is completely different than around the other members of the ton.

This new side to her doesn't hamper him from going through with his plans and her beauty doesn't make seduction hard. Amelia's dislike of Thomas stems from her belief that her father loves him more than he loves her and her father's neglect since her mother's death. Amelia is humiliated when Thomas puts her to work on his files like she was a secretary, but she worries what he would do if she refused to do what he asked. Her work for him makes her mother suspicious so he agrees to do some non-work related activities for her such as horse back rides. It becomes increasingly difficult for them to keep their hands off each other and even while they both believe they cannot stand the other, they are taking every opportunity they can find to be alone together. Suddenly Thomas is wondering if he has completely misjudged her and if it would be possible for the two of them to have a life together. But when he sees her with one of her former suitors he believes he has been taken for a fool and it will take important efforts from both of them to get around their former hatred and admit their love.

Amelia comes across as incredibly immature as she has had two failed elopements with completely unsuitable men and very little attempt was made to explain why she had tried to elope. Her hatred of Thomas was seemed purely mean spirited and I wanted to slap her father for having allowed things to have progressed to the point where his daughter was so awful. Her insults are supposed to be "honest" and "original" but they just came across as horrible and unpolite in every aspect. I wanted her to grow up as the book went on but I wasn't completely convinced she did. I admired her ability to be honest about her feelings surrounding her father as they were very complicated and her resentment for his “abandonment” and subsequent dislike of those whom her father does like seemed genuine, even if it didn’t warrant the amount of venom she spewed at Thomas. Despite my dislike of Amelia, I was horrified by the humiliation she endured at Thomas’ hands while she was working for him. It was painful to read and there were times when I wanted to put it down purely because of the embarrassment.

Thomas’ plans to almost seduce Amelia to get back at her for insulting him and his making her work for him did not endear me to him. But Amelia was really such an awful person that it was difficult for me to completely disagree with his motives or his methods. Despite his pretending to hate her he wasn’t opposed to going off half-cocked whenever another man so much as glanced in her direction. Also- I am not a big fan of romances where the hero engages in sexual activities with another woman, even if it occurs before he and the heroine are involved. He was always looking for the worst in Amelia, even when she was being good and it made it difficult for me to see how he fell in love with her. And his behavior made it equally hard to determine how she fell in love with him. Granted there was a ton of steam between them and the sex between them was absolutely scorching and there was quite a bit of it. I enjoyed the presence of his mother and sisters and especially her father and the interesting relationship he had with both his daughter and with Thomas.

Rating: A fairly terrible book all around, with two atrocious characters who had some hot sex, but the writing style was well done. 

Monday, January 3, 2011

One Sinful Night

One Sinful Night by Kaitlin O'Riley 1224

Vivienne Montgomery and Aidan Kavanaugh were childhood best friends in Galway, Ireland until the summer Aidan came home from school to discover that Vivienne was all grown up. Friendship quickly blossomed into love and they agreed to be married by the end of the summer. Unfortunately Aidan's mother harbored greater aspirations for her son than marrying an Irish lass and one day Aidan he caught Vivienne and another man in a very compromising situation. He ran to England, inherited the Earldom of Whitlock, and spent the next ten years trying to forget Vivienne until a house party with the Duchess of Bingham brings them face to face. Vivienne was devastated when Aidan left her without giving her a chance to explain that she was taken unaware and was trying to get away from the man she was with. She was ostracized by many back in Ireland and after her grandmother died and her father died in a ship accident, she was all alone until her English cousins came to claim her.

She is not pleased to run into Aidan at the house party and he certainly doesn't try to make anything easier for her and challenges her at every opportunity. No matter how hard either of them try they cannot forget the good times when they were children, they cannot deny the attraction for each other, and they cannot suppress the feelings that are resurfacing. While trying to fight these feelings he is also trying to find evidence that Jackson Harlowe, who operates a competing shipping business, has been trying to ruin his business by burning down his warehouse. It does not help that Jackson is making overtures to Vivienne and all his possessive feelings come rushing to the fore. Vivienne and Aidan have difficulty keeping their hands off of each other and when they are discovered a wedding is imminent. But Vivienne is worried that Aidan will never be able to let his anger over what happened go and that his mother will never allow them to be happy. Aidan needs to get rid of the danger Harlowe poses and prove to Vivienne that they can overcome their past and move on together.

I enjoyed the last book of O'Riley's that I read so I decided to give this a try and I am very glad I did as this was a very enjoyable book. As usual, I love having the hero and heroine being in love years ago and being forced apart by a big misunderstanding only to find that their feelings resurface after years. The plot was handled perfectly in this novel with all of the great emotions and angst and jealousy and fears and possessiveness and rekindled love. The big misunderstanding was well done as it was big enough to warrant him running off and causing such a big rift and yet easily explainable enough to forgive both Vivienne and Aidan for allowing it come in between them. I loved Vivienne because she was so self assured, incredibly capable and she didn't allow what happened between her and Aidan to ruin her life. And I loved that she wanted to marry Aidan and instead of allowing her misgivings to ruin everything she came out and told him and prompted an honest discussion between them that paved the way for them to get back together and forgive each other. She was a very adult character.

Aidan was still a wonderful character and I thought he was perfect for Vivienne, however I did enjoy her more because he did harbor a lot of anger against her for a very long time. At times I felt like he was overly mean to her and there was one sex scene where I felt like he was using sex to manipulate and control her and, while it was incredibly hot, it kind of made me squeamish. But both of them handled things in a mature manner and it's always nice to read about characters who don't blow everything out of proportion. The sex between them was absolutely scorching and I wish there had been more of it throughout the book. I also wish that the two had spent more happy time together and hadn't relied quite so much on happy childhood memories ferment their relationship. I absolutely loved his mother as the lying, manipulative old bitch who was incredibly awful but was so much fun to read about. And the plot about her deceased father and the evil Harlowe Jackson was perfect as it was entertaining, mysterious, and important to the plot without overwhelming everything.

Rating: A very great book with two very adult characters who had some great emotional moments but not enough happy and carefree moments.