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.

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