Lady Eleanor Sutherland has, so far, refused five marriage proposals (well, six, but no everybody knows about that first offer). Her standoffish manner and her rebuttal of the even slightest attempts at flirtation, have earned her the nickname Lady Frost and her own page in the betting books. But the truth is, she isn't cold, she just refuses to settle for anything else but a love match.
Yet it looks like that's what she'll have to do, thanks to Camden West and his blackmail. The cad had the gall of making his cousin Julian trap Ellie's younger sister, Charlotte, in a compromising position in a darkened garden. So far, only the four of them know the truth about the "incident", but Cam is threatening to tell everybody, if Ellie refuses to marry him.
In the end, Ellie has only one option. Outsmart the villain without ruining her sister or her own life.
Oh. My. Sweet. Lord.
I chose this book for the cover (look at all the bright colors without one single naked male chest in sight) and the blurb. Usually, that's a recipe for a reading disaster, but this story was as far removed from any kind of disaster as it could possibly be.
I. LOVED. IT.
I immediately took to the heroine with her spunk, her determination, and her ability to send any man scurrying for cover, and I laughed out loud at her inner musings, especially when she decided occasion merited an unladylike curse or two. I adored her to bits, and I was skeptical as to what kind of hero she was saddled with. At first.
I didn't particularly like Cam at the beginning. He was acting fishy, and he severely underestimated his heroine. It was lovely reading about him scrambling to catch up and keep pace. Then, the puzzle pieces started to fit together, and although I still didn't approve of his tactics, I grudgingly understood his motive.
And then, well, then he got to know the real Ellie and started to show his own true self...And the rest is history. Is it any wonder Ellie fell for the guy? Who wouldn't? Especially after reading about his inner turmoil and his true feelings. Lordy!
These two were perfect for each other, both hiding deep inner scars, yet so utterly vulnerable in each other's company; each other's opposites, yet rather similar in many aspects. It was a pleasure reading about their "antics", the schemes, the struggles against any possible tender feelings for the other...
Theirs was a romance in a true sense of the word. They didn't like each other at first, distrusted one another, yet once they got to know each other, once they peeled away all those protective layers, acceptance and love blossomed. This is what I like in my romance stories. Not some insta-love, stretched-so-thin-it's-almost-transparent, implausible crap, but the "realism" of it all. How feelings and attitudes change (for better or for worse) as a person gets to know someone. How you have to know someone (and yourself for that matter) to give your trust, your forgiveness, and your heart.
Ellie and Cam's romance was believable, realistic, bitter-sweet and so beautifully written it made my heart flutter. There, I said it.
It wasn't perfect, it wasn't starry-eyed and their path was filled with obstacles (some of their own making), but it worked.
I couldn't say the same about the secondary romance between Cam's cousin and Ellie's sister, which worked as well, yet it didn't work out; and they have quite a long road (and an entire book) ahead of them. I'm looking forward to their story, even though I never quite warmed up to Charlotte, but maybe her rebellious tendencies will be explained in the next book.
I absolutely adored this story, from the characters (the little Amelia being my absolute favorite of the bunch), the voice, the narrative style and the flow it brought to the story, and the perfectly imperfect romance.