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review 2015-12-21 00:59
#CBR7 Book 140: Diary of an Accidental Wallflower by Jennifer McQuiston
Diary of an Accidental Wallflower - Jennifer McQuiston

Lady Clare Westmore is pretty certain that she's well on her way of securing the affection of Mr. Charles Alban, the next Duke of Harrington. Every sign seems to suggest that with just a bit more time with him, he will propose marriage by the end of the season. When she manages to sprain her ankle violently, she still insists on going to the evening's ball, as passing up a chance to dance with Mr. Alban is unthinkable. However, the pain is such that she can barely stand, and she ends up in the corner with the wallflowers, shocked to discover that her so- called best friend dances and flirts with the duke's heir instead. She's rather rude to the young man who approaches her, assuring her that he is a physician, wanting to treat her injured leg. Dr Daniel Merial nonetheless manages to persuade her that he can help her, so Clare limps to the library in search of her mother, who's there as her chaperone. She receives her second shock of the evening when she finds her mother in the arms of a young man.

 

Mortified, Clare mainly allows Dr. Merial to examine her ankle, hoping that his doctor-patient confidentiality will prevent him from gossipping about her mother to anyone. She's extremely upset when he concludes that she will need to stay at home, resting her ankle for the next six weeks. That will completely ruin her chances with Mr. Alban! One of the most popular girls of the season is suddenly taken completely out of the running, and with the time she's left to spend at home, Clare is also forced to consider the many things that are clearly disastrously wrong in her parents' marriage. 

 

While she's actually a very intelligent and well-informed young lady, Clare has created the perfect image for society of a carefree, slightly flighty beauty, perfectly behaved, dressed and with friends who have all the right connections. She despairs of the wild manners of her young brother and unconventional and spirited sister, who is due to debut in society soon. Once she's home bound, her siblings admit that they strongly dislike the persona she's created and she is forced to acknowledge the duplicity and fickleness of her so-called society friends. 

 

Dr Daniel Merial came to London to perfect a device to administer anaesthesia, and when he's not working in the hospital or attending the dying Lady Austerly, he works on experiments at night, trying to make it work. He is in desperate need of other rich clients as his pay at the hospital isn't enough to fund his invention. So he's quite glad to be asked back to treat the cranky Miss Westmore, as he really does need the money. The more time they spend together, the harder it becomes for him to keep a professional distance. That her younger siblings both adore him as well and are eager for him to visit, makes it even harder for him to stay away.

 

The longer Clare is away from the cut-throat world of the season, the more confused she becomes about what she really wants. Mr. Alban comes to visit her, but they have none of the chemistry that sizzles between her and Dr. Merial. Yet Clare is the daughter of a viscount and though Daniel is a very promising young physician, whose invention, if he manages to complete it, could make him substantial amounts of money, there is no denying that there is a big social divide between them. As Clare discovers more of her parents' marital troubles, she understands that there are several secrets being kept, that if they were to be revealed, could mean complete social ruin for not only herself, but her siblings. Securing a marriage with a future duke could be the best solution to all their problems.

 

This is the first book I've ever read by Jennifer McQuiston, and I really liked her take on a high born heroine and commoner hero. Daniel Merial is a great hero, and he's determined to revolutionise medicine not out of desire to make himself wealthy, but to save as many lives as possible. He's an idealist, but also realises the necessity to make enough money to make ends meet. Although Lady Austerly pays well, he's also genuinely concerned about her, considering her a friend and he despairs at her continuing insistence on throwing social events, even at the risk of her already ailing health. He initially tries to keep a professional distance from Clare, but when she keeps going on about her wishes of a future match with Mr. Alban, he gets irrationally jealous and realises his feelings for her. 

 

It's not actually all that common that marital problems are addressed in romance, even among secondary characters. I therefore felt that the growing rift and distress suffered by Clare's parents was an interesting addition to an already slightly unusual book. Add to that her younger siblings, who were both socially unprepared for their future duties, without getting too annoyingly quirky (although the tomboy sister occasionally comes close), who make a fun and believable supporting cast. Clare is a good heroine, initially blinded as to what she needs to make her truly happy by what she has been raised to believe she should aim for.

 

I got this book in an e-book sale after seeing it recommended on some romance blog or other. I will absolutely be seeking out more of her books.

Lady Clare Westmore is pretty certain that she's well on her way of securing the affection of Mr. Charles Alban, the next Duke of Harrington. Every sign seems to suggest that with just a bit more time with him, he will propose marriage by the end of the season. When she manages to sprain her ankle violently, she still insists on going to the evening's ball, as passing up a chance to dance with Mr. Alban is unthinkable. However, the pain is such that she can barely stand, and she ends up in the corner with the wallflowers, shocked to discover that her so- called best friend dances and flirts with the duke's heir instead. She's rather rude to the young man who approaches her, assuring her that he is a physician, wanting to treat her injured leg. Dr Daniel Merial nonetheless manages to persuade her that he can help her, so Clare limps to the library in search of her mother, who's there as her chaperone. She receives her second shock of the evening when she finds her mother in the arms of a young man.

 

Mortified, Clare mainly allows Dr. Merial to examine her ankle, hoping that his doctor-patient confidentiality will prevent him from gossipping about her mother to anyone. She's extremely upset when he concludes that she will need to stay at home, resting her ankle for the next six weeks. That will completely ruin her chances with Mr. Alban! One of the most popular girls of the season is suddenly taken completely out of the running, and with the time she's left to spend at home, Clare is also forced to consider the many things that are clearly disastrously wrong in her parents' marriage. 

 

While she's actually a very intelligent and well-informed young lady, Clare has created the perfect image for society of a carefree, slightly flighty beauty, perfectly behaved, dressed and with friends who have all the right connections. She despairs of the wild manners of her young brother and unconventional and spirited sister, who is due to debut in society soon. Once she's home bound, her siblings admit that they strongly dislike the persona she's created and she is forced to acknowledge the duplicity and fickleness of her so-called society friends. 

 

Dr Daniel Merial came to London to perfect a device to administer anaesthesia, and when he's not working in the hospital or attending the dying Lady Austerly, he works on experiments at night, trying to make it work. He is in desperate need of other rich clients as his pay at the hospital isn't enough to fund his invention. So he's quite glad to be asked back to treat the cranky Miss Westmore, as he really does need the money. The more time they spend together, the harder it becomes for him to keep a professional distance. That her younger siblings both adore him as well and are eager for him to visit, makes it even harder for him to stay away.

 

The longer Clare is away from the cut-throat world of the season, the more confused she becomes about what she really wants. Mr. Alban comes to visit her, but they have none of the chemistry that sizzles between her and Dr. Merial. Yet Clare is the daughter of a viscount and though Daniel is a very promising young physician, whose invention, if he manages to complete it, could make him substantial amounts of money, there is no denying that there is a big social divide between them. As Clare discovers more of her parents' marital troubles, she understands that there are several secrets being kept, that if they were to be revealed, could mean complete social ruin for not only herself, but her siblings. Securing a marriage with a future duke could be the best solution to all their problems.

 

This is the first book I've ever read by Jennifer McQuiston, and I really liked her take on a high born heroine and commoner hero. Daniel Merial is a great hero, and he's determined to revolutionise medicine not out of desire to make himself wealthy, but to save as many lives as possible. He's an idealist, but also realises the necessity to make enough money to make ends meet. Although Lady Austerly pays well, he's also genuinely concerned about her, considering her a friend and he despairs at her continuing insistence on throwing social events, even at the risk of her already ailing health. He initially tries to keep a professional distance from Clare, but when she keeps going on about her wishes of a future match with Mr. Alban, he gets irrationally jealous and realises his feelings for her. 

 

It's not actually all that common that marital problems are addressed in romance, even among secondary characters. I therefore felt that the growing rift and distress suffered by Clare's parents was an interesting addition to an already slightly unusual book. Add to that her younger siblings, who were both socially unprepared for their future duties, without getting too annoyingly quirky (although the tomboy sister occasionally comes close), who make a fun and believable supporting cast. Clare is a good heroine, initially blinded as to what she needs to make her truly happy by what she has been raised to believe she should aim for.

 

I got this book in an e-book sale after seeing it recommended on some romance blog or other. I will absolutely be seeking out more of her books.

Source: kingmagu.blogspot.no/2015/12/cbr7-book-140-diary-of-accidental.html
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review 2015-12-20 22:42
#CBR7 Book 139: What a Wallflower Wants by Maya Rodale
What a Wallflower Wants - Maya Rodale

Miss Prudence Merriweather Payton has been dubbed "London's Least Likely to Be Caught in a Compromising Position" and after four seasons, she may be the only woman to go unmarried for so long after graduation her finishing school. No one, not even the loving aunt who raised her or her two best friends, knows that Prudence was raped at a ball early in her first season and has made very sure she's never alone with a man or considered marriage material. After all, her entire worth on the marriage market has been forcibly stripped from her. Yet now, with the upcoming anniversary ball of her finishing school, where even her two former wallflower friends have found happy marriages, she can't bear to be the only graduate left unmarried.

Taking matters into her own hands, Prudence travels to Bath and arranges a marriage of convenience to a gentleman who she knows will never expect or demand conjugal rights, as he's rather more interested in his best friend. However, on the way to his estate, where they are to be married by special licence, their stagecoach is attacked by a highwayman, and her intended pushes her out of the carriage to distract their attacker. She manages to escape, no thanks to her fiancee, without attracting the robber's attention and is left to make her way to civilisation alone.

Trudging through uncomfortable heat at first and later pouring rain, Prudence vows never to trust another man again. When she's offered a ride by a dashing and handsome man who introduces himself as John Roark, Viscount Castleton, she refuses even though she's cold, wet and tired. They nevertheless meet again at the country inn where she seeks refuge. As the torrential downpour continues for days on end, the two are trapped, along with a number of other guests, until the weather settles down. John and Prudence spend quite a lot of time in each other's company, and it doesn't take long for John to realise that someone badly hurt Prudence at some point in the past.

Roark is on his way to London with a grand business proposition which will secure not only his own future, but that of his mother and sister. He has secrets he cannot divulge and certainly isn't looking for or able to support a wife in his current situation. Yet he gets more and more smitten with the wary Miss Merriweather (she doesn't give him her full name) and when her dark past shows up unexpectedly at the inn, and she nearly suffers a repeat performance of her former attack, he doesn't even think before jumping in to defend her and pummelling her attacker.

After John beats up her rapist, saving Prudence from another nightmare scenario, she breaks down and finally tells someone about the (to her) deeply shameful secret about what happened years ago, and he comforts her, confessing that his sister once suffered the same fate as her. He is therefore fully aware of how scared and distrustful of men she must be. Even knowing that she may be scared, he proposes that they travel to London together, leaving the inn in case her attacker returns. They pose as man and wife on the road, and John's gentle treatment, understanding and patience gives Prudence hope that she may in time be able to trust another man again and possibly not recoil at being touched. But John's past is about to catch up with him too, and what will happen when Prudence discovers the secrets he's been hiding and the reasons he's in such a hurry to make it to London?

This romance deals with the aftermath of rape, and it doesn't in any way gloss over what happened to Prudence. The scene where she is attacked is graphically described, in a horrible inversion of the usual love scenes in such a book and there is no doubt that something terrible and irrevocable is done to a helpless young woman, whose life is never the same afterwards. Even now, rape is a horrible crime, but in a time when a woman's chief commodity was her virtue and she was seen as tainted goods and worthless if she lost it, rape took away any chance a woman had to make a good marriage. Prudence spends four years carefully making herself as unattractive and unobtrusive as possible, happily embracing her wallflower role, simply so she won't ever have to confess the truth about her tragic fate. When she meets a kind man who not only treats her gently but understands her pain, that is just as attractive to her as his physical beauty. Having kept her secret for so long, she's desperate to confide in someone.

John, absolutely furious about the trauma she's been through, not only beats her attacker within an inch of his life and drives him and his friend out of the inn, but insists on being allowed to show Prudence how to defend herself, as it's not fair that she go through life seeing herself only as a victim. She needs to reclaim her self worth, and his self defence lessons and the way he refuses to see her or treat her as ruined is a great help in making her start to blossom again.

The third and final of Maya Rodale's <i>Bad Boys and Wallflowers</i>, even with some rather melodramatic turns in the last third of the book and some pretty huge coincidences furthering the plot, this is by far the best in the series. Prudence is a lovely heroine, so strong and admirable for refusing to let her ordeal break her. John is a sensitive and understanding hero, who because of his unusual background is able to accept Prue's disgrace in a way most men in her peer group would not. I'm also not entirely sure if the ways in which the villain gets his comeuppance is historically accurate, but it felt very satisfying.

I read romances as a means of entertainment and escapism. In historical romances, I like being diverted by historical locations, pretty dresses, fancy titles and couples finding love, often across societal boundaries that are somewhat anachronistic. This book made me cry, more than once, and I'm pretty sure it wasn't just because I was pumped full of fertility hormones. Reading about a young woman having her entire future stolen from her in a savage attack is upsetting, and as Rodale points out in the afterword, many women of the past were driven to depression or suicide by such events. While other aspects of the book weren't perfect, I thought the main issue of the story and the love story between Prudence and John was very effective. Well worth checking out, as long as you're not sensitive about the darker side of the plot.

Source: kingmagu.blogspot.no/2015/12/cbr7-book-139-what-wallflower-wants-by.html
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review 2015-12-16 00:01
#CBR7 Book 138: Wallflower Gone Wild by Maya Rodale
Wallflower Gone Wild - Maya Rodale

Lady Olivia Archer is unmarried after four seasons on the marriage market, known as "London's Least Likely to Cause a Scandal". Everywhere she goes, her mother forces her to recount her ladylike accomplishments, such as embroidery, playing the piano, painting water colours and other deathly dull things. Olivia isn't surprised people have taken to calling her "Prissy Missy" and that at one memorable garden party, a gentleman jumped into a hedge rather than speak to her (or her mother).

 

One of her best friends, Lady Emma, another former wallflower, recently married a duke after a series of unusual events and is now determined to match her two besties with suitable men.  Before she has time to introduce them to anyone, however, Olivia meets a handsome stranger at a ball and has a moment of true chemistry with him after their eyes meet across the room. The morning after, she is told her parents have accepted the proposal of Sir Phinneas Cole for her hand in marriage. A genius and reclusive inventor, Phin is in London to work on completing a machine with Lady Emma's husband. He wants a pretty, quiet and polite wife to help him manage his vast Yorkshire estate. He is also popularly known as "the Mad Baron".

 

Some years ago, all the newspapers ran stories about the tragic fire in his lab and how his first wife died under mysterious circumstances. While in finishing school, all three wallflowers read the scandalous accounts of how "the Mad Baron" stole his brother's fiancee and later likely murdered her. Because he lives in Yorkshire and never goes into society, Phin was of the naive belief that the rumours had died down. He was very wrong. It's clear that the woman he wants to marry is both afraid of him and behaving very strangely.

 

Olivia has concocted a plan with her friends to make Phin break off the engagement. If he wants a proper and ladylike bride, then Olivia must be everything but. She's been brought up knowing all the rules that mustn't be broken and has never stepped a toe out of line before. This has brought her nothing but scorn, ugly nicknames and now a very unwanted, possibly murderous fiancee. She starts behaving as scandalously as she can - wearing excessive amounts of makeup, getting drunk in public, dancing with rakes and scoundrels and generally trying to cause scenes (she's not very good at it).

 

Phin (who of course is the handsome man she met that magical night) is puzzled by the erratic behaviour of Lady Olivia. He can't deny the attraction he felt for her that first night, and even at her worst, Olivia can't come close to causing the sort of scandals his first wife inspired. The more outrageously Olivia acts, the more determined he is to go through with the marriage.

 

While Olivia doesn't know that Phin isn't a crazy murderer, the readers are of course privy to his POV and fully aware that he's not as dangerous as the rumours would have it. A big old science nerd, he's actually quite dreadfully clueless around women, and tries to take courtship advice from his more wordly (but moronic) friend, with the results that Olivia isn't just afraid of him, but thinks he's a dolt as well. The only thing their relationship has going for it is that first brief meeting when their glances caught across a crowded room and they shared a brief moment, until some of the catty ladies of the ton came to interrupt before anything significant could happen. The undeniable chemistry between them then is what makes Phin determined to win Olivia, and makes her unsure of whether he can be as bad as his reputation suggests. 

 

Brought up to do only what is right and proper for a young lady, Olivia has never been given the opportunity to actually decide what she likes or wants from life, and her attempts at acting out go rather badly, because there is a reason she and her friends are dubbed "London's Least Likely". In one last-ditch attempt to rebel, Olivia goes to a masquerade, where she is rescued from a near-assault by none other than her (obviously masked) fiancee. Overwhelmed by everything that's happened since she became engaged against her will, she breaks down in his arms, and speaks honestly of her hopes and fears. Phin, to his credit, realises how dumb he has been and determines to treat his bride better, encouraging her to forge her own way and make her own choices once they are married.

 

He does not, however, tell her the truth behind the lurid gossip surrounding his first wife's death for quite some time, creating one of those frustrating misunderstandings that seems to be so common in romance. Of course things improve immensely between the couple once the full story is out, just in time for Olivia to injure herself badly, making Phin realise his feelings for her now that he might suddenly lose her.

 

Which brings me to my biggest gripe with this book. In addition to the "let's act all mad-cap and crazy to put off my fiancee" section that goes on a bit too long, this book has one of the most unbelievable deflowering scenes I've ever come across. Now, I may be extra critical, reading this book shortly after I myself fell on the ice and broke my left wrist quite badly. Nonetheless, I'm literally painfully aware of how much this hurts, and how sore and unwieldy a broken limb is, for up to a week after the injury. Even with the benefit of modern painkillers, I really didn't want to use my left arm for much of anything. Olivia breaks her ankle in an accident, yet seems perfectly able to consummate her marriage only a day or two afterwards. I don't care what superhuman erotic abilities "the Mad Baron" possesses, there is NO way that she would happily be spreading her legs and engaging in carnal acts so shortly after breaking a limb. As far as I'm aware, the most common painkiller in the Regency era would have been laudanum. Olivia would therefore either be more or less passed out in a morphine haze or in absolute agony if someone tried to move make her "open her legs". 

 

Now, if you don't have the painful real life experience of breaking a limb fresh in your mind, this might not be a deal breaker for you. This book had a lot of potential, and I liked it better than the first book in the series, but there still wasn't anything out of the ordinary to make me consider Maya Rodale as an essential romance writer whose books I'll be looking out for or pre-ordering. 

Source: kingmagu.blogspot.no/2015/12/cbr7-book-138-wallflower-gone-wild-by.html
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review 2015-12-15 22:00
#CBR7 Book 137: Winning the Wallflower by Eloisa James
Winning the Wallflower - Eloisa James

Miss Lucy Towerton is very tall and until she inherited a fortune from a distant aunt, she was a wallflower without many promising prospects. So when Cyrus Ravensthorpe - handsome, rich, yet with some unfortunate family connections (his mother, the daughter of a duke, ran away to marry his father, the family solicitor) proposed marriage to her, she could hardly believe her luck. Now her mother wants her to break off their betrothal so she can catch herself a more suitable husband, possibly even Mr. Raventhorpe's cousin, the Duke of Pole. Lucy doesn't actually want to marry anyone else, and contrives a plan to be caught in a compromising position with her intended.

 

Cyrus Ravensthorpe is a man with a plan, a very carefully detailed plan that will ensure that his family regain the position in society they lost when his mother created a scandal by running off to Gretna Green after falling in love with his father. He has worked extremely hard to make himself a fortune, and proposed to Miss Lucy Towerton because 1) She was the daughter of a baronet, 2) Had a spotless reputation and 3) As a wallflower of several seasons, it wasn't like her family were going to turn down the offer. Now he arrives at a ball to discover that his fiancee is likely to throw him over, as she's come into a fortune of her own. She no longer needs the money he can offer her. Being so scrupulously careful to avoid anything that smacks of unseemly passion or inappropriate desires, Cyrus made sure he arranged the betrothal with Lucy's father and paid her the expected calls, but hasn't actually really paid any attention to the lady, until he may be losing her. 

 

Lucy, emboldened by her new prospects, has been thinking about her fiancee's strange and restrained behaviour and confronts him (pretending to all others that she intends to break it off with him, so they'll be left alone). Discovering that she's only one of many steps in his plan to secure respectability and position, and doesn't know the faintest thing about her, she jilts him, not to please her ambitious mama, but because she's come to the realisation that she can do better. Finally seeing Lucy properly for the first time since they met, Cyrus realises that she's completely right to break the betrothal, but becomes determined to her back, with a proper courtship this time. 

 

This novella is part of Eloisa James' Fairy Tales series, where the author takes famous fairy tales and writes historical romance versions of them. I don't actually think this novella fits with a specific tale and mostly serves as a fun interlude. It introduces Olivia Lytton, the heroine of The Duke is Mine, which Goodreads assures me I read back in August of 2012, but which I never reviewed and can barely remember. Olivia is Lucy's best friend, and the one who convinces her that she needs to fight to keep Cyrus if she actually likes him. 

 

Eloisa James' writing can be a bit hit and miss, but she's got a clever way with words, and this little story is a fun take on the woman who learns to stand up for herself and demand what she deserves, plus the stuffy, proper hero with hidden passionate depths who is completely taken aback when he's suddenly overwhelmed by unexpected feelings. While Cyrus' motivations were very understandable, he was clearly a screaming bore before Lucy snogged the cravat off him and he realised he was going to do some pretty impressive grovelling to get back into her good graces. 

 

Romance is usually written by women, for women about women and it's stories like this, about women taking control of their lives and destinies, speaking up about what they want, no matter what the conventions and consequences that are part of what makes the genre so enjoyable. Because it's novella length, it's a quick and fun read. There are some developments mentioned in the epilogue which I'm unsure of are historically accurate, but I really didn't care enough to bother checking whether Ms. James was taking anachronistic liberties or not. Despite that, this novella is absolutely recommended. 

Source: kingmagu.blogspot.no/2015/12/cbr7-book-137-winning-wallflower-by.html
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review 2015-12-11 00:15
#CBR7 Book 134: The Game and the Governess by Kate Noble
The Game and the Governess - Kate Noble

At seventeen, Miss Sophie Baker is looking forward to her debut in society. She's only a few months away from graduating from a prestigious ladies' academy and her future looks bright. Then her father dies suddenly, destitute after having been swindled by a con man. Sophie's whole world changes and instead of a season and balls and pretty dresses, she's left to fend for herself, making a living as a governess. She blames the Earl of Ashby for her change in circumstance, as it was his former business manager who swindled her father. Had the Earl publicly denounced the man instead of just firing him, Sophie's father would never have lost everything they owned.

 

Five years later, having successfully saved up nearly enough to achieve her dreams of going to America to join her cousins, Sophie comes face to face with the Earl of Ashby. She just doesn't realise that he's not the man she thinks he is. Lord Edward Granville, the aforementioned Earl of Ashby, known to his friends as "Lucky Ned" has entered into a wager with his secretary, John Turner. For a period of two weeks, Ned has agreed to switch places with his secretary, to prove that his overall luck, popularity and success with the ladies, especially, has nothing to do with his wealth and title, but just his looks, charm and the luck that always seems to make him come out on top.

 

Turner proposed the wager both because he wanted to cut his pompous and oblivious employer down to size a bit. If he wins, he gets five thousand pounds to save his family's failing mill. If he loses, Ned will not only be even more insufferable, as he'll have been proven right, but he'll lose the mill once and for all. Trading places, Ned has to make a woman of gentle birth (no low-born and easily coerced servants allowed) fall in love with him and present him with a clear token of her affection. Ned thinks it's going to be a piece of cake and is also looking forward to showing the stuffy Turner that life as the Earl isn't always as care free and easy as it looks to be.

 

Despite the house they're staying in being full of eligible women, Ned is chagrined to realise that when people think he's a mere secretary, the same affable behaviour that normally has him welcomed with opened arms, is seen as overly familiar and inappropriate. While he may have spent his first twelve years in genteel poverty before becoming the former Earl's heir, he's gotten very used to his easy life of privilege. The only woman who will even give him a second glance is the governess, Miss Turner, and even with her, he has to work much harder than he ever has before to impress her. He has no idea that she blames him for her downfall in life, and by the time he discovers the truth, he's already fallen in love with her. Can the Earl of Ashby become a decent and likable human being over the course of two weeks and also convince a woman who has every right to hate him that she should spend the rest of her life with him?

 

While there was a lot of potential in this book, the romance feels more like a secondary plot than the main event. So much time is spent establishing the relationship between John Turner and Ned Granville and setting up the wager. Ned and Sophie don't even really speak until nearly halfway through the book. Then there's the fact that Ned, initially, really is a bit of an ass. He clearly needs to walk a mile or two in someone less fortunate's shoes and wake up and smell his privilege, and to be fair to Ms. Noble, he goes through a lot of changes over the course of the book. By the end, he's a pretty decent romance hero and has a lot more understanding for the position he put his friend Turner in. 

 

While Ned is a bit of a douche-canoe initially, and Turner is frankly a bit of a bore, who spends quite some time trying to sabotage things for his friend, because he so desperately needs to win the wager to get the money to save his mill, Sophie is great and I am upset that so much of the book focuses on the friendly frenemy relationship of the dudes, when there is a lovely, strong, clever heroine, who despite the misfortunes she's suffered, has retained the ability to keep positive and choosing to see the silver lining rather than the clouds. While she was deeply upset with Ashby initially, five years later she has proved to herself that she's a resilient, self-sufficient woman. She's good with children, she's managed to make nearly enough money to achieve her dreams and she's really not looking for a man to complete her or "take her away" from her life of drudgery. She delivers a righteous slap to Ned when he kisses her the first time, having just presumes she wants him, and verbally berates him in the strongest terms. 

 

There is a lot of good stuff in the book, and I'm sad that I can't rate it higher, but in a romance, I really do want the interaction between the hero and heroine to be the most prominent story line and it just didn't feel like that was the case here. So far, Kate Noble hasn't done anything that I actively hate, and I'm willing to give her a lot of slack for being a co-writer on my beloved Lizzie Bennet Diaries. I still have quite a few of her books from various book sales, but am not going to buy any more until I've found one that I can really fully recommend without several reservations. 

Source: kingmagu.blogspot.no/2015/12/cbr7-book-134-game-and-governess-by.html
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