The Luckiest Lady in London by Sherry Thomas
Felix, the Marques of Wrenworth, has buried his emotions and become the Idea Gentlemen by showing only his strengths to the rest of the world. Louisa Cantwell needs to marry a wealthy man as her mother's annuity will run out upon her death and she needs to provide for her other sister's, especially her youngest, Matilda, who is epileptic. She has narrowed her choices down to only a couple man, and has quite deliberately crossed Felix off of her list of choices because he is so far above her station and she does not waste her time. Felix notices right away that she has dismissed him and it is such a unique experience that he can't help but be both miffed and intrigued. He finagles his way into her company and while there is certainly a spark, he knows that she still veils her interest in him. He knows that his attraction for her won't be satisfied with mere friendship so he offers her the position of his mistress and then tells her unsavory details about the two different men she is currently thinking of marrying. Louisa wants Felix desperately but refuses to become his mistress, but just as she about to succumb to his unsavory proposition Felix decides that the only way to deal with his infatuation is to marry her.
Both Felix and Louisa look forward with great anticipation to the wedding night as their entire courtship had contained some barely veiled references to adventurous bed play. Felix's childhood was filled with his father's desperation over Felix's mother's inability to love and he has carried the fear of rejection with him ever since and wears his shield of strength against any signs of weaknesses, including love. When he discovers that he is indeed falling for her and that Louisa could use sex to control him and he starts to push her away. Louisa is heartbroken to realize that she has the marriage she had hoped to avoid, especially as Felix makes it clear that he does not care for her. It takes a house party to remind Felix why he wanted to marry her and to discover that falling in love can be the greatest sign of power and not the weakness he has always feared. Unfortunately Louisa discovers his nefarious plans to get her to become his mistress and she believes his protestations of love are selfish in nature. Felix will have to prove he can care about someone more than he cares about himself for Louisa to be able to admit her love for him in return.
Thomas' books are always a tad on the subdued side and have a lot of emotional upheavel that creates a lot of angst and second thoughts and passion. Her characters lend themselves to rocky relationships because of past hurts, both in previous relationships and in their current one. Louisa's cold and calculated method of going about finding a husband, instead of making me dislike her, made me admire her because of her confidence and her common sense in realizing what she needed to do to save herself and her family. I especially liked how open she was about her sexuality and her expectations about sex, and how she wasn't scared of admitting to her needs and desires, but only with Felix. It really showed that they were comfortable and trusting of each other. Felix's fear of love was understandable because of the incredible back ground and development Thomas did of his childhood, which was much more comprehensive than the typical hero back story and was done with Thomas' trademark thoroughness. It made my sympathasize with his fear instead of thinking him hardhearted.
Felix and Louisa spent a lot of time throughout the novel together; good times, bad times, and in between times. They flirted, they flirted some more, they moved in together and arranged a house party together, they gave each other the cold shoulder, they purposely tried to hurt each other, they called a truth and put on a happy face, they couldn't keep their hands off each other, they deal with betrayal, and they finally were able to recognize their own feelings for each other. It was a truly remarkable way of showing how well they would work together on a daily basis and how they would deal with the ups and downs of any relationship. The sex between them was hot and frequent and was both at times romantic, heart breaking, and sexy and it was a really nice way to bring together two people who were very sexually attracted to each other and very open about their sexual needs and wants. I really liked how the phrase "I Love You" didn't solve all of their problems and Louisa and Felix both demanded more from each other.
Rating: This book perfectly hit the spot for me and I loved both Louisa and Felix and found their relationship perfectly well written.