A charming story of misguided love that goes the right way in the end.
Lucy Waltham has been in love with her brother’s friend Toby for ages, or so she thinks. He is about to be engaged to Sophie, who has been invited to their estate for their annual autumn hunting party. Lucy decides that she must take action and attempts to elicit the help of Jeremy, Earl of Kendall, another close family friend, with unexpected results.
At first, I did not like Lucy, the heroine. The first few chapters had me wanting to tear out her hair. Slowly though, as she grew as a character, I began to warm up to her. She wasn’t really a silly chit, just sheltered with the naivety of youth, the kind that in this day and age would write ILU 4EVER TOBY in a high school notebook. (God, I feel old.) Tessa Dare did an excellent job of developing the character throughout the book, and while Lucy may start out a bit silly, by the end of the book she has grown into a more mature, likeable person in a natural fashion. I think Dare does a great job of showing and not telling with the characters and how events shape them into what they become.
Jeremy is a likeable hero. The first few chapters are mainly from his point of view and I found them amusing. I could almost hear him thinking, No. No. No. Lucy = idiot. Wait. Down penis, down. Oh, shit. I liked how he fell in love gradually but like it was always there all along, unfurled slowly in the way the story was written. (I had a smile on my face and sent my officemate out to buy coffee so he wouldn’t see me giggle!)
I loved the dialogue and the exchange between characters, especially the men. Dare does an effective job of using dialogue to give insights into the characters’ personalities, especially the secondary ones. She also does well with characterising men. They sound like they are supposed to sound, no sappy profusions or strange out of character statements (cough, JR Ward, cough). Yes, they are downed by love, but they still manage to keep their dignity and sound like men. I love how Henry, Lucy’s elder brother, is typically oblivious to everything, the way some men are, and how the relationships and camaraderie between the men are fleshed out through dialogue:
“Henry, you know I’m happy with Jeremy. Must you persist in tormenting him?”
Henry shrugged, “Of course I must. He’s family now. Besides, what would you have me say?”
“Oh, I don’t know,” Lucy replied. “Perhaps, ‘I’m sorry’ or ‘I forgive you’ or ‘I’m so thrilled for you both’?”
Both Henry and Jeremy laughed.
“What’s so amusing?” she asked, mildly annoyed.
“For God’s sake, we’re men,” Henry said. “We don’t say things like that. At best we keep them tucked in the pockets of our best waistcoats to pull out at weddings and funerals.”
While this book was very well written—despite being late in the game I do finally know what everyone is talking about—I had a few issues with the later part of the book. I felt that Jeremy and Lucy’s internal conflict was enough to carry the book along, that there was no need for extra bits, like the issue with Albert (I will not delve into this further as it may become a spoiler). I suppose they were there to provide some sort of additional conflict or impetus to get the characters to get their act together but I thought that it wasn’t entirely necessary.
Yay or nay?
I really liked this book and would highly recommend it. I am so glad that I bought all three books, and that Dare releases books in threes, so I can just go home and pick the next one off my TBR shelf!
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