She was a sensible woman.
He was a man who could drive a woman senseless with desire.
Gareth Fitzallen is celebrated for four things: his handsome face, his notable charm, his aristocratic connections, and an ability to give the kind of pleasure that has women begging for more. Normally he bestows his talents on experienced, worldly women. But when he heads to Langdon’s End to restore a property he inherited—and to investigate a massive art theft—he lays plans to seduce a most unlikely lady.
Eva Russell lives a spinster’s life of precarious finances and limited dreams while clinging to her family’s old gentry status. She supports herself by copying paintings while she plots to marry her lovely sister to a well-established man. Everyone warns her of Gareth’s reputation, and advises her to lock her sister away. Only it is not her sister Gareth desires. One look, and she knows he is trouble. One kiss, however, proves she is no match for this master of seduction.
I did myself a huge disservice with this book. As excited I was to read this one – and I did drop everything to start it – I was so overwhelmed with review books that I put it aside at 9% and didn’t get back to it for a few months.
However, it is a great book, and even with the big gap I really loved it.
Just as with contemporary romances, it sometimes seems there are only so many stories you can write set in the Regency era. However, in contemporary romance in amongst the sea of bakers and wedding planners marrying the ex-SEALs-turned-cowboys, there are authors who can do something fascinating and original and not clichéd.
This is the case with authors like Madeline Hunter. She has the talent to take a well (over)used time period (Regency England) and create fascinating stories that have not been done before.
One of the best aspects of this series is that neither hero nor heroine sits at the top of the social ladder. Gareth is the son of a duke, but the bastard of a duke. Eva is gentry, but has no fortune and no hope of a fortune. We get a glimpse into the top layers of society, but this is more about the characters.
I also like the mentions of Chatsworth and the Duke of Devonshire, as I’m tired of every Jane Austen-themed show implying that a mere Mister (Darcy) would live on such an important property!
The theme of this book is art, and I love all the research that went into it. I’ve spent a lot of time in national galleries, so this was probably a more interesting topic to me than it will be to some. However, the way the mystery and the crime involved were worked through the plot was very smart. This is an excellently-plotted book.
The one thing that always drives me crazy about Hunter’s books is that the same mistakes always pop up. If your characters are sitting on their ‘asses’ they’d bloody well better be riding donkeys! Annoying that the version I read wasn’t even the US edition, and it still had those mistakes in there!
Otherwise, I loved this book.