Gillyflower "Gillie" Muir is straddling a line. She needs to host card parties at her home, a mere six months after her father's death, or risk destitution. On the other hand, she's ostracized by the "good" women of the little town of Blackhaven, including a countess, because of those parties. It looks like no one truly knows what is looks like to have to earn a living. And then an enigmatic stranger enters Gillie's dull and dreary life.
David Keath, the tenth Baron of Wickenden, is bored and tired of his persona of the Wicked Baron. So he decides to come to the coastal town of Blackhaven partly as a favor to his ex-mistress and partly to relieve his boredom. Little does he know the "hussy" that's supposedly bewitched his ex-mistress's son, is as far removed from a gaming-den temptress as she could possibly be...And that he will end up bewitched in the end. But first, he has to save Gillie from her various messes...And then from the one he put her in.
This was a cute, funny, quirky little story that certainly would've deserved a higher rating if it wasn't for the fact it didn't seem it took itself very seriously.
I loved the heroine. She was a genuinely good person, thinking of everybody else first (even the Wicked Baron) but herself and when she loved, she loved fully, without reservations, and was willing to do anything first to save the man she loved and then to keep him.
The Wicked Baron, on the other hand, needed some marinating time to ingratiate himself. He always seemed to have an ulterior motive for all he did. Even after the original ulterior motive was known, there still seemed like there was something brewing in his head, and he pretty much remained an enigma for the entire story and even at the end. I actually more scenes told from his point of view, since his feelings for Gillie seemed rather rushed and out-of-the-blue.
The rest of the cast provided a nice little backdrop for these two protagonists, from the brawny servant, to the slightly deaf aunt, the seemingly flighty brother, the earnest pretender for Gillie's hand, the dragon-y matron, the good-natured count and his sisters...They were a quirky bunch and they worked both inside the story and to compliment the two protagonists.
Then there were the various sub-plots. The romance was as quirky as the rest of it, sweet from the heroine's part, slightly hole-y from the hero's part (it felt like there were scenes missing, to connect the appropriate dots and believe what we were presented). The suspense seemed added more as an afterthought than an actual sub-plot in order to push Gillie and Wickenden together and once more, there appeared to be something missing. Why was Wickenden on the beach that night when the traitors were captured? Did he come to Blackhaven for that as well, or did he just tag along for the fun of it? Also, what happened to the traitors afterward?
This wasn't the only hole in the plot, or a loose end. We never got to learn the truth about the Spanish woman, for example. Was she who she claimed to be or just someone seeking a better life? Why didn't Kit make a bigger fuss that night on the road? Supposedly, Gillie made him see reason, but we didn't see that scene at all, etc.
There were bits and pieces missing throughout the story; scenes or mere sentences to bring it all together and make everything make sense in the end. Hence the quirkiness. Not only in the cast of characters, but in the story itself.