I was given a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
Unlike every other proper young lady, Miss Emma Jennings views marrying well as little more than a means to an end. Such a merger would provide her industrious father with social credibility, and Emma with a chunk of her vast inheritance. Emma’s practical views are shattered, however, when her father ties her to the fabulously handsome ne’er-do-well Rowan Battencliffe, a man she loathes on sight—from the smile that promises all manner of wickedness to the way he ogles her with those striking blue eyes.
Deep in debt, especially to his wine merchant, Rowan figures the sooner he gets his finances in order, the sooner he can go back to doing what he does best: burning through ridiculous sums of cash. Which is why Rowan agrees to marry the merchant’s daughter, a prim and proper woman with delightful curves and an ample dowry. But Emma seems to think it’s her business to reform him! Their marriage is a tinderbox—and it’s just too tempting to resist playing with fire.
When I was given this novel, I didn’t realize it was the third novel in a series, but it didn’t matter. I had no difficulty following the plot. It wasn’t until late in the novel that it even occurred to me this might be part of a series. It’s enjoyable on its own.
I loved this novel. It was really unique among its genre. The time period of the work is one I read often, and the author does a tremendous job showcasing the problems of the London ton in the early 19th century. The constraints placed on Emma, a woman with a head for business, is clearly a crux in the plot. Every word, every letter, every conversation is scrutinized by societal ladies who expect her to enjoy gossiping and drinking tea in the receiving parlor rather than scheming money-making deals with the gentlemen in the gaming room. Any modern woman can truly feel her frustration at not being able to voice her opinion. I only wish she’d been allowed to voice aloud her internal monologue at times. But, again, this is part of her base conflict.
Rowan isn’t the typical hero either. Yes, he’s handsome and silver-tongued, a perfect ballroom gentlemen, but many times, he was more stumble than swagger. In fact, I think he could definitely be labeled learning disabled. (Too many years in the classroom had me diagnosing his issues with math!) It’s his very lack of skills which made him so endearing and made his match with Emma so perfect.
My one complaint with the novel: Vocabulary for the sake of vocabulary. I understand using terms of the period, and I also understand that, if you are true to the period, the language usage will be different from our time period; however, when I marked the fifth word in as few chapters that seemed extraneous, my frustration level ratcheted up a notch. Why use a $5 word when a 25 cent word works just as well? Is it for the sake of the reader or the author?