Saturday, March 26, 2011
Gemma lives an idyllic life at her grandfather's estate Ware, where she feels like she is the natural successor as she has put in years of hard work in dedication seeing the estate run successfully. She lives in semi-self-imposed exile as her mother's scandalous behavior years before has lead to her being a topic of scandal and there is no denying that Gemma has an "aura" about her that attracts men to her. Her father does not believe that she should inherit Ware and tasks his godson with marrying her before his own death, which is expected soon. Sebastian Laidley is a rake of the first order and has spent his life trying to forget his father's legacy and the havoc that in wreaked in his life and the life's of his mother and older, and deceased, brother. He has no intention of marrying Gemma, even though after meeting her he is struck by her beauty, and strikes a bargain with her grandfather to find her a husband within three months or marry her himself. The first step in this is to escort Gemma to his family estate under the guise of helping plan his sister's wedding and showing her grandfather needs her for Ware to run smoothly.
Before they leave Gemma's mother shows up with her very young beau, Charles Bellamy, and Gemma is once again the lost girl whose mother abandoned her. She does go to Laidley with Sebastian, where their friendship quickly blossoms into something more. His mother is still learning how to be her own person after years of marriage to a controlling husband and his sister, Fanny, is madly in love her fiance, but because of his own reputation as a rake she is continually fighting with him and calling off the wedding. Meanwhile Gemma takes charge of the estate; discovering the housekeeper is pilfering money and getting the house running smoothly and looking beautiful. She helps Sebastian see things from his sister and his mother's points of view and helps him cope with the reality of his brother's suicide and the fact that Sebastian needs to step up and be lord of his estate. But Sebastian is worried that Gemma will not be able to see past her lifetime obsession with running Ware and fears proclaiming his feelings for her. It will take a family tragedy for Gemma to realize that loving Sebastian will involve some risks and giving up her old dreams, but it will be worth it to have love in her life everyday.
Gemma was rather boring really even though I know I was supposed to find her interesting for running her grandfather's estate and being independent. Her desire to run Ware was well founded and I did not like how everyone just accepted that her grandfather would not leave it to her. However, I just could not really bring myself to be interested in what was going on with her and ware, probably because her experience at ware took place before the book started and we didn't get to see it. She was so scared to venture out into society because of a scandal her mother had created, but I could not figure out what this scandal was. It was hinted at and it certainly caused quite a hubbub throughout the book, but all I could figure out was that she had married someone unsuitable which hardly seemed to warrant the horror everyone regarded it with. Her take charge attitude at Laidley was impressive but happened on the down time of the book. Sebastian was more interesting because of the demons that haunted his past and I liked that Gemma was the one who helped him sort through his feelings and got him back on the right track. Sebastian and Gemma had a very well developed relationship with lots of quality time and real conversation between them. There was almost no sex between them and it was rushed and shoved to the back of the book, so it was not really that interesting.
I did like all the other relationships that happened throughout the book, especially the one between Sebastian and his family. They were incredibly sweet and moving and Wells did a really great job of developing them and using them to bring Sebastian and Gemma closer together. Towards the end I really lost a lot of respect for this book as Gemma's feelings were made to seem childish and shrewish and unreasonable, when in fact I thought she should have been more angry. Although her grandfather made it clear that she would never inherit Ware, I completely understood why she thought she could change his mind, and thought she was completely entitled to be disappointed when he left it to someone else. Instead she ends up apologizing for her behavior, which was really not that bad and should have been worse, to the man who showed up in the 9th hour and supplanted her position. She apologizes to her mother for making some rude innuendo about her behavior, when her mother was the one who abandoned her and left her alone, only to bring this other man into her life at the last minute. This was a big issue for me and I became very frustrated when I was reading this and it really knocked this book down quite a bit in my esteem.
Rating: The romance was good enough and there were some interesting little side bits, but I just did not "get" Gemma's obsession with Ware or appreciate how her feelings about Ware were belittled.