Sunday, July 31, 2011
Rating: 5 stars
After reading this book I couldn't believe I waited this long to read it. I loved the book that came before this, and I ended up really liking this one as well. I feel like the author has grown so much since her early books - so much that you can't really compare a book from years and years ago to one of her current books.
The basic story: For anybody who hasn't read about them - The Huxtables are one of those close knit families. The parents are both dead and the oldest daughter - Margaret acted as a kind of mother. They lived in the country for years until the "Earl of Merton" title was passed to the youngest Huxtable - Stephen.
At the time of this story, all of Stephen's sisters are married. He's a fair-haired, well-liked, mellow, friendly young man about town. The heroine is a widow. It is rumored that her husband died a nasty death at her hand. The reality is that she was married young to a man who got violent when he drank. The whole "Who done it?" is plaed throughout the book. She is rapidly running out of funds and she supports her former governess, her maid & the maid's young daughter, & a dog who is blind in one eye. She sets about looking for a wealthy protector and winds up finding Stephen Huxtable. She sets about "seducing an angel". It's interesting because, even though she's a good soul deep down, for obvious reasons....she pursues Stephen in the same predatory way that most rakes in these historical romances usually do. Once she attracts him she is very honest about what she wants and expects (a quality that I really like about my fav Balogh characters). Stephen helps her throughout the book - looking better in the eyes of society, repairing the relationship w/ her brother, encouraging her to try to reclaim her widow's settlement. Cassandra is a strong heroine & I like how complex the characters are. I like that after only being intimate (in secret, thus protecting her reputation such as it is) twice, Stephen helps her without having a sexual relationship - he just wants to help her because he cares about her and he thinks it's the right thing to do - one human being for another.
There is a lot of drama in this book, but a lot of fun & light moments as well.