Seducing Mr. Knightly by Maya Rodale L
Derek Knightly is the much loved, but illegitimate, oldest son of an Earl, and he has spent his life trying to prove himself to the half-brother who inherited their father's title and then threw him out of their father's funeral. He has amassed a newspaper empire, and tons of money, and one way he drew such a large readership is by featuring women writers. Annabelle has worked for the London Weekly for years, writing a popular advice column and earning the nickname, "Dear Annabelle." For just as long Annabelle has been in love with her boss but Mr. Knightly has been completely oblivious to Annabelle and she does have a tendancy to disappear in a crowd. Decided that she has had enough, Annabelle decides to enlist the help of her readers and asks them how to go about seducing a man. The column is widely popular as everyone in London wants to know what is going on with Dear Annabelle and the man they come to know as the "nodcock." Derek is excited about the surge in readership but the newspaper industry is in trouble as the influential Lord Marsden is leading an investigation into the industries investigation habits.
Marsden hopes to shut down the newspapers that are using questionable means to pry into the live's of the ton, but he makes it clear to Derek that he will look past the London Weekly if Derek marries his sister, Lady Lydia, who has the rumor of a recent scandal surrounding her. Annabelle follows much of the advice she is given, lowering her bodice, attempting flirtatious glances, and making Derek jealous with the help of her male colleagues. Derek is definitely beginning to take notice but can't believe that he could possible be the nodcock and he is trying to focus on winning over Lady Lydia who finally offers him the entre into high society he has been longing for and an escape from her brother's investigation. Annabelle is scared that she is losing her chance at happiness with Derek and decides to follow the most scandalous bit of advice and sneak into his bedchamber at night and make it clear that he is indeed the nodcock. With happiness just on the horizon they must face the consequences of angering Lord Marsden, but help shows up in the most unlikely of places, saving their newspaper, and their happily ever after.
I very much enjoyed reading Annabelle's transformation from naive and complacent, really almost a doormat, to daring and confident while still maintaining those little things that made her such a good person. I liked that she was independent and had a career but that did not jive with the woman who let her sister-in-law treat her like a common scullery maid and I found myself annoyed with her quite a bit. While some of the things she did in the name of love were out of character it worked with the story and with her development as she finally went after what she wanted. Derek was also a very well written character as he struggled to accept the life he was born into and find acceptance from his father's other family. This drove him to succeed at all costs and he was certainly driven to make lots of money in an attempt fit into the world of the ton. I could not really understand his inability to see Annabelle for three years as she was right under his nose and then suddenly find himself thinking of her constantly even if the duckling blossoming into a swan is a nice little fantasy.
Their relationship was incredibly slow in progressing as it took a very long time for Derek to notice Annabelle and it got rather boring to read about her infatuation with him while he was still hell bent on marrying the aristocracy. Even when it started to move forward it went at a snails pace with a couple of kisses leading up to one lukewarm sex scene. I was definitely rooting for them to get together and I could see that both of them were lovable/ likable people but I felt like it would have been difficult for the other to really know this as they weren't really together that much. I enjoyed the side plot involving the newspaper industry and the little bit of undercover work that was needed to uncover some very juicy gossip. It also raised some interesting issues about ethics in journalism and did a good job on portraying both sides of the story. I was also interested in the emotions surrounding his family situation and how he came to deal with that situation and would have liked more. The book was a little too cozy with other characters from the series and it got a little annoying. The writing was fast and fun, but really more fluff than I'm used to, even in romance novels.
Rating: Two well written characters, but a very slow romance that bordered on frustrating and a couple of interesting aspects that weren't romance related.