Thursday, March 31, 2011
Suzette believes that in order to save her family from ruin, she must marry as soon as possible. Her father has once again gambled his fortune away and while last time her older sister, Christiana, married a horrible man, it is her turn to find someone penniless who will allow her to use some of her dowry to pay off the debt and then leave her in peace. She and her younger sister, Lisa, head to London to find Christiana when their friend tells them that she may be trapped in a loveless marriage, and there are some interesting developments with Christiana's husband. While her husband is dead, his twin brother, who is the real Earl, is still alive and the girls must contend with him and this possible new scandal. Meanwhile the Earl's friend, Daniel Woodrow, is quite taken with Suzette when he first meets her, but when he thinks she is a fortune hunter he is disappointed to have misjudged her and claims to be broke. This works perfectly with what Suzette wants and she immediately proposes to Daniel, startling him and making him wonder if it is possible he does want to give up his bachelorhood and marry her.
Daniel, Richard, and the sisters must work hard to find out who had killed Christiana's husband and if they are now making attempts on Richard and Christiana's lives. Meanwhile Daniel and Suzette find themselves alone quite a lot and take advantage of every opportunity to make out and engage in other activities, but he holds back from taking her virginity. He worries that once he tells her that he is not really in desperate need for her money she will refuse to marry him so he swears everyone to secrecy about his financial situation. Unfortunately even after the murder is solved it does not explain away the murder attempts and which of Dickie's friends had been planning to marry Suzette. Daniel decides to take Suzette to Gretna Green before she finds out about his riches and her entire family accompany them. He has realized that he desperately needs Suzette in his life and does not want to risk losing her and her marriage of convenience has quickly turned into a love match for her as well. However, there is still someone out there who wants Suzette for himself and he will use whatever means at his disposal to keep them apart. Suzette must take a leap of faith and Daniel must take a chance on Suzette in order for them to find their happily ever after.
I loved Suzette as a heroine because she was funny, confident, and her decision to sacrifice herself for her family was noble and oddly enough made sense for the circumstance she was presented with. I liked her relationship with her father and her sisters and I liked that she went for what she wanted when she met with Daniel. Daniel was also great, partly because I loved the way he and Suzette interacted with each other. He hadn't been born into wealth, but had had to earn it, and he had a normal relationship with his mother which I found refreshing in a romance novel. Suzette and Daniel worked so perfectly together- from helping to solve Dickie's murder, to finding their own way out of scrapes, to the more steamy aspect of their relationship. Although things are taken "slowly" for the majority of the book there is still a lot of steam going on and I am liking the new trend of having romance novel heroines be comfortable with their sexuality even if they are virginal and sheltered. There was a moment where I was a little upset with the lack of faith Suzette had in Daniel, but when I thought more about it I realized that it actually really made sense because of the relationship they had. I was really rooting for them to have their happily ever after and they were really great together.
The plot involving Dickie's murder was really well written and developed nicely in this book as we got to look at it from another side. The new plot involving this other man who wants to marry Suzette was really great because it was very subtle and unexpected and served as a great catalyst for their relationship. I also liked how, while Christiana and Richard were featured, the book did not focus on their relationship. There are a lot of complaints that this book is just a repeat of The Countess, the previous book in the series that features Suzette's sister, Christiana, and her husband, Richard Fairgrave. I will not lie; this book covers an immense amount of the same territory and about 2/3 of the book overlaps in the timeline. However, I disagree with the critics because I felt like it was different enough to warrant a separate book and that events from the previous books were not completely re-done. I do not believe that a reader could appreciate this book without having read the previous book because it does not really go into detail about what happened and really focuses only on what Suzette and Daniel are going through. I also liked that it solved a couple of the loose ends that were left at the end of The Countess and set up the last sister's book very nicely.
Rating: Another fun book by Sands, but it was not quite as good as The Countess. I liked the characters, the plot, and the pace.