Reginald Masson is wealthy refined and by all accounts, a gentleman. However, he is not a gentleman by birth, a factor that pains him and his father. Bernard Mason, with the Regency society that upholds station love all else. That is, until an opportunity for social advancement arises, namely, Lady Annabelle Ashton. Daughter of the Earl of Havercroft, a neighbor and enemy of the Mason family, Annabelle finds herself disgraced by a scandal, one that has left her branded as damaged goods. Besmirched by shame, the earl is only too happy to marry Annabelle off to anyone willing to have her.
Though Bernard wishes to use Annabelle to propel his family up the social ladder, his son does not to marry her, preferring instead to live as the wild, single life he is accustomed to. With this, Bernard serves his son an ultimatum: marry Annabelle, or make do without family funds. Having no choice, Reginald consents and enters into a hostile engagement in which the prospective bride and groom are openly antagonistic, each one resenting the other for their current state of affairs while their respective fathers revel in their suffering.
So begins an intoxicating tale rife with dark secrets, deception, and the trials of love-a story in which very little is as it seems.
A romance novel with its own website? And not a full length romance either? It must be worth the effort!
I confess I was reluctant to purchase the book as it was in hard cover and seemed so pricey for a novel that was under 200 pages. But I put away my doubts and placed my faith in Balogh’s talent for writing touching, unforgettable books. And while I cannot say the book was worth every penny, it certainly was worth reading-this was an interesting, engaging, well-written story with a very unexpected twist.
Both hero and heroine have been forced into an unwanted marriage-she to escape ruin and he to rise up the social ladder. At first you expect a marriage of convenience story as both characters make their dislike for each other obvious. But, without spoiling the story for you, you will be pleasantly surprised at how things end up.
As usual, Balogh’s talent for writing emotionally moving plots and her insights into the human heart are here in top form. This is a wise, touching portrayal of two people who find love despite their different social classes.
The only thing I wish this book could have improved on was its length-it was a bit too short I felt for a story that would have been brilliant if there was more time to flesh out the characters. We barely get to know the hero and heroine, though their chemistry is not in question-it’s obvious they are good together. I only wish we had more time to see them interact.
Still, in such a small number of pages, Mary Balogh has managed to create a wonderful, unpredictable story, one you will definitely need to pick up and read again.
Sensuality Rating: Warm (Love scenes are short and non explicit)
Verdict: A short, and very surprising story. Not to be missed.
Rating: 4 and a half out of 5 stars