Monday, January 2, 2012
Everyone in the ton thinks that Teresa Darent is a flibberty-jibbit and she her three marriages, all ending in her being widowed, have done nothing to combat that persona. Owen Purchase, American pirate and English outlaw, has recently come into the title of Viscount Rothbury and has joined Lord Sidmouth, leader of the home office, to try put a stop to the radical movement, especially the cartoon artist Jupiter. Unfortunately Teresa's reputation has put at risk of threats and blackmail and when one of her late husband's creditors comes calling he gives her a terrible choice; let him marry her 15 year-old stepdaughter or he will ruin her with rumors and innuendo. Having heard rumors that Owen is unable to perform sexually Teresa decides the best option is for her to marry him and become respectable. Owen is not flattered by her proposition but having an inkling that she might be the cartoonist Jupiter he agrees because he desires to protect her from Sidmouth and her stepdaughter from a forced marriage but Owen does not agree to a marriage of convenience and decides to "court" Teresa.
Teresa is unprepared for the onslaught of visits and carriage rides and trips and finds that marriage to Owen could be so much more than she was expecting. However, Teresa is still haunted by the ghosts of her previous marriages; her first husband whom she had a friendly if unconsummated marriage with left her with the need to take up the mantle of reform politics, her third husband who spent their marriage in a drunken stupor but who trusted her with his estate and children, and her second husband who was a lecher and left her unable to bear intimacy or physical contact with others. Owen's courtship makes Teresa wonder if she can move beyond what happened in her past and take control of her life. There are still some secrets Owen is hiding, like his own past with Teresa's sister, Joanna, when he fancied himself in love with her. While Teresa feels betrayed by his secrets Owen knows that he is in love with Joanna and when Lord Sidmouth comes to haul her off he cannot risk the woman he loves. Joanna hopes it is not too late to confess her feelings and make a stand to save her future with the man she loves.
Teresa's involvement in politics was something I very much admired, especially because she wasn't scared to completely throw herself in them and try to fix things all the way. Most romance novel heroines will open an orphanage to put a bandage on the problem but wouldn't dare to look at the causes behind why so many children are being abandoned. I did not feel like this aspect of her life was fully developed however, just kind of thrown in as an example of her relationship with her first husband. Her second husband was admittedly an awful man and I know he did some truly horrible things to her but I thought completely shutting herself off to intimacy and being so scared of touch took things a little too far. However, Owen's attempts to woo her by truly courting her were so much fun and were so beautiful because it made it clear he was expecting something more from her and knew she was capable of so much more. It really made their relationship seem real and gave them a really good opportunity to get to know each other and showed how well they worked together.
Owen was really a typical romance novel hero with an overinflated need to protect women and a strong desire for the heroine. The sexual tension really sizzled between these two, even while Teresa wanted to deny it and thought herself incapable of fulfilling that part of a relationship. He was so patient with her and worked with her to move beyond her fears and even though there was not a lot of actual sex happening between them it was both hot and romantic because it was something they both worked towards and showed how far they had both come. This story really was about their relationship and how it progressed very naturally and I really enjoyed that but I wish the little hiccup about his feelings for his sister had lasted a little longer because as it was it just seemed like an excuse to prolong the book a little since it was so short and brushed aside so easily. Lord Sidmouth made an okay villain considering his specter disappeared during the courtship and only reappeared after they had fallen in love and Owen's little self-sacrifice just came across as ridiculous rather than heroic to me.
Rating: A very engrossing read with a heroine who I could really support but Owen was nothing special and there were some little problem throughout the book.