After watching her beloved sister Sophia pine over the ton’s Golden Boy for years, Miss Julia St. Claire has foresworn love and put herself firmly on the shelf. Unfortunately, her social-climbing mother and debt-ridden father have other ideas, and jump at the chance to marry Julia off to the newly-named Earl of Clivesden…the man of Sophia’s dreams.
Since resigning his Cavalry commission, Benedict Revelstoke has spent his time in London avoiding the marriage mart. But when he discovers that the Earl of Clivesden has set Julia in his sights, Benedict tries to protect his childhood best friend from the man’s advances—only to discover more than friendship driving his desire to defend her. He surprises them both with the force of his feelings, but when she refuses him and her father announces her betrothal, he fears he’s lost her forever—until Julia approaches him with a shocking scheme that will ruin her for all respectable society…
…and lead them into an exquisite world of forbidden pleasures.
Benedict Revelstoke is in London to buy a broodmare. He has no intention of attending balls or even seeing his childhood best friend, Julia. He’s at his club though and sees that a man named William Ludlowe has placed a bet having to do with Julia and he heads off to warn her. He does manage to warn her but doesn’t tell her about the bet.
Julia and her sister Sophia have been out for several seasons and have had offers of marriage that they have both turned down, much to their mothers dismay. Julia has no plans to marry, ever, and Sophia has been in love with William Ludlowe (the bet maker) for five years and plans to marry no one but him. Unfortunately William shows no signs of ever paying Sophia any attention and her heart is breaking. When Sophia faints after seeing William with another woman at a ball she is saved by the Earl of Highgate. Unfortunately it compromises Sophia and the two end up engaged. Sophia plans on crying off before the marriage, and Highgate knows it, but the longer Highgate is with Sophia the more he truly wants her for his bride.
Benedict has been in love with Julia since he was a young teen but Julia wants nothing but to be his friend. That changes however when Julia’s engagement to William Ludlowe, now the Earl of Clivesden, is announced - an engagement that was arranged without Julia’s knowledge or consent. Besides the fact that she doesn’t even like Clivesden she doesn’t want to marry him for another reason – her sisters love for him. Julia doesn’t want to betray her sister and heads off to find Benedict. Julia asks Benedict to compromise her so that she won’t have to marry Clivesden and while he first refuses he soon realizes that he can’t let Julia go.
I know that it all seems very confusing with the two different sisters and their men and then Clivesden, but I have to say that despite there being a ton of characters in this book the author did a good job of weaving the story and not making the reader feel overwhelmed.
When I started the book I thought that it was just a love story between Benedict and Julia but really the book has 2 love stories going on – that between Benedict and Julia and also Sophia and Highgate. While I liked both stories I have to say that I felt that neither of the love stories were given their complete due because of sharing a book. I would have loved to read about Julia’s and Sophia’s romances separately as each seemed a bit rushed. I think I actually ended up liking Sophia’s romance better than Julia’s!
Benedict was a second son and a fine man. He wanted to court Julia but she’d have none of it. If it hadn’t been for her parents making arrangements behind her back I don’t think the two would have ever gotten together because of Julia’s thoughts on love and marriage. I was quite happy when she finally got her head together and saw the light. :)
Sophia and Highgate great together. Highgate had lived through one marriage where his wife cheated on him and didn’t care for him at all. He understood that Sophia was going to need time to get over her feelings for Clivesden before they could really move ahead with their relationship. He tried to be patient and he was for the most part but I’m happy to say that he did his best to move her in his direction. He wasn’t your typical romance hero as far as stature as he wasn’t tall and strapping - he was actually shorter and scarred - but Macnamara really made him seem so much bigger because of his personality and I loved that.
Overall it was a good read. I liked the writing enough to definitely pick up another of her books when it releases.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5