A beautiful young woman—preferably one with no connections, who won't ask too many questions—to spend two weeks in the North of England with an obstinate, aloof, and utterly handsome man.
Must love dogs, fixing up crumbling castles, and gorgeous and complicated war heroes who may or may not be hiding hearts of gold under their gruff exteriors.
Must not, under any circumstances, fall in love . . .
Simpering misses need not apply.
John Martin's mother takes her cousin's advice and ends up advertising for someone to come and seduce her facially scarred son who she thinks might not be able to satisfy a woman because of war. Angelina is a former actress and courtesan who had some bad luck in both professions and is looking to A) Get out of London and B) Make some money. She takes the job from John Martin's mother with the knowledge that once she finishes the job she will leave 100 pounds richer.
Angelina approaches the ruined castle that John supposedly lives in with a bit of caution and with the story that she is in the countryside to draw the beautiful scenery. She meets John that first day but he is none to happy at having visitors and quickly gets her off the property. The next day she shows up again and then again. Eventually the pair are sharing lunches and conversation together and slowly getting to know each other. Angelina's a bit confused as to why he's not taking her up on her not-so-subtle advances and wonders if she's lost her touch.
After hearing Angelina's story John knows that she is emotionally hurt more than she lets on. He realizes that a friend is exactly what she needs – not someone who will take advantage of her sexually from the get go. Angelina however, is feeling guilty for the part she's playing in John's mother's scheme and doesn't know if she can keep up the ruse.
This was a surprising book for me. While I wasn't too sure about Angelina's part in the whole scheme the way that Darby wrote it worked for me incredibly well.
John had Angelina pegged when it came to her emotional needs. He saw below the surface to the distress she was truly feeling and didn't push her. Though Angelina thought that she was, at first, doing this great service for John she quickly realized that they were healing each other.
The fact that the pair started off as friends really worked for me. The quiet meals they shared together and the work they did on the castle together brought a different aspect to the romance that I very much liked. When they did eventually have sex it was sweet and slow and showed the way they felt without words.
The whole story was wonderful and I definitely recommend this short, sweet novella.