Harrriet Hathaway has loved only one man her entire life: the Earl of Roxley. But when he ignores her at a ball, she takes rather desperate steps to catch his eye and her plans find her ruined and without any hope of gaining Roxley’s heart. So it is much to her amazement when Roxley proposes marriage to save her from ruin. But Roxley’s proposal isn’t quite on the up and up and when she finds out she’s just another piece in one of his plots and japes, she vows revenge.
Roxley is desperate to pull his family from the brink of ruin, and the only way to gain a lost fortune is to prove to his aunts that’s he’s “reformed” his life and is determined to settle down. But the bride-to-be that he thought would be most amiable is doing everything to turn his life and his heart upside down. Harriet Hathaway had always seemed the most sensible girl he knew, but now this siren of a stranger he’s engaged to is leaving him feeling anything but sensible. Harriet is about to steal not only his heart, but quite possibly the keys to the Roxley fortune.
Harriet has been in love with Roxley for years. Roxley has been in love with Harriet for years. He has tried to hold himself back from her (although he’s not sure why) but one night she tempts him just one time to many and they share a wonderful night under the stars. Unfortunately Harriet wakes up from a night of being thoroughly and deliciously ruined to find that Roxley is gone.
Now it’s 8 months later and Harriet is back in London with Roxley’s Aunt Essex. She is determined to get Roxley and not let him escape this time. Unfortunately what she finds is Roxley “almost” engaged to another woman! She figures out that everything is not right with the soon to be match and is unwavering in her decision to stick to Roxley like glue and decipher what’s going on.
Roxley left the morning after he bedded Harriet to ride to London to get a special license so that they could marry immediately. Needless to say he never got the license and hadn’t seen Harriet in the 8 months since then. He still loves her with all his heart but he’s in a bind. His luck the last 8 months has been horrible with losing games, his man running off with his money and now one man holds all his vowels and wants him to marry his daughter, Miss Murray. He puts it off as long as possible but he fears he’s going to have to propose before he finds out what’s or who’s behind all of the bad luck. He just has a hinky feeling that someone is behind it all and he needs to find out who.
Let me start out by saying that this was a very good book. I really liked the writing style (as I usually do with Boyle), the characters and for the most part, the story. Roxley and Harriet were so very perfect for each other and I could feel that whenever they interacted. Unfortunately this didn’t happen quite as often as I would have liked during the book as they were constantly being torn apart from each other.
That being said I did have a couple of issues with it. The first was Roxley’s friends. He had them, in multitude. He had worked for the Home Office and he had friends there – they even gathered to let him know that they knew there was something weird going besides just bad luck on his part and that they wanted to help them. Wonderful! To me that meant not only would they help find the blackmailer but also since at least one of them was rich that they would buy his vowels from Mr. Murray and therefore stop him having to marry Miss Murray. Of course no one even suggested that – they just wanted to find out who was behind it all. What? He mentions that he has to go see his aunts – one that is in Bath - but then mentions that she told him she wouldn’t allow him in the house until he brings a bride. The guy from the Home Office tells him to get engaged quickly to Miss Murray. Again, what? The whole point is to not get engaged to that woman. Ug. So his friends did help but not exactly in the way that made perfect sense.
Another issue I had with the book was the whole 8 month gap between Roxley leaving to get the special license and then the current time. What the hell was he doing? He says, eventually, that he met with a friend on the way to London. Ok, then were you stuck under a large rock for the rest of the 8 months? I just didn’t get the delay, the non-communication with Harriet, his almost unforgivable disregard of Harriet in general. I loved them together but really, Roxley? You go for a special license the night after you bed the woman you supposedly love but yet you not only DON’T get the license you go on to live your life without one single word to that woman for EIGHT LONG MONTHS. WTH? Seriously. The fact that Harriet never asked and that the information was never offered by Roxley really stuck in my craw to say the least. Poorly done on both of their parts, imho.
As the story line goes these are really two very minor details in the book but I couldn’t stop thinking about them throughout the book and that brought the rating down, unfortunately. Despite those two issues I thought that book was fun, funny, romantic and definitely worth reading.
Rating: 4 out of 5
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