Saturday, February 21, 2009
Sir Phillip knew that Eloise Bridgerton was a spinster, and so he'd proposed, figuring that she'd be homely and unassuming, and more than a little desperate for an offer of marriage. Except… she wasn't. The beautiful woman on his doorstep was anything but quiet, and when she stopped talking long enough to close her mouth, all he wanted to do was kiss her…and more.
Did he think she was mad? Eloise Bridgerton couldn't marry a man she had never met! But then she started thinking…and wondering… and before she knew it, she was in a hired carriage in the middle of the night, on her way to meet the man she hoped might be her perfect match. Except…he wasn't. Her perfect husband wouldn't be so moody and ill-mannered, and while Phillip was certainly handsome, he was a large brute of a man, rough and rugged, and totally unlike the London gentlemen vying for her hand. But when he smiled…and when he kissed her…the rest of the world simply fell away, and she couldn't help but wonder…could this imperfect man be perfect for her?
Another one of the Bridgerton Series - the fifth, Eloise's story. I've loved all the previous books, but the blurb above really doesn't give the real story of this particular romance. Yes, Eloise runs off to Gloucestshire to meet the widower she's been corresponding with for a year, but as with the previous Bridgerton heroes, this one, Phillip Crane, has a dark insecurity. He feels he doesn't know how to be a good father to his twin eight year olds, and he wants to marry primarily to find his children a mother. Plus, he's in need of a wife who will take care of his household so he can spend all his time in his greenhouse with his plants and flowers. He's willing to marry any old crone (as he puts it) as long as she is happy. You see, his first wife suffered from acute depression and after trying to kill herself, died of lung fever. Phillip married her early in his life, and never once saw her happy. In addition, Phillip has been living the life of a celibate for the past eight years - I don't need to tell you what else he wants a wife for!
Eloise too is not Miss Perfect and she is carrying around some baggage herself. Considered a spinster at age 28 she's always wanted to marry for love. Having turned down six marriage proposals, she never thought anyone was "right" for her. After her best friend (another decrepit spinster like herself), marries her brother Colin, that seems to be the final straw for Eloise and she takes Phillip up on his offer of coming to meet him to see if they will suit. Could this be her last chance to find someone to marry so she won't be alone and unmarried for the rest of her life? She's created this perfect image of him in her mind. For someone who is usually so full of common sense, she's setting herself up for disappointment. Lucky for her, Phillip, is handsome and rugged looking in that "country sort of way." He's no London dandy.
Although there are dark themes throughout this book, it does have it's lighthearted moments, But for the most part, there's a serious tone throughout it. In addition to the theme of death and depression and Phillip's motherless children, there's also the theme of child abuse. Phillip suffered at the hands of his father who beat him relentlessly, and Phillip is scared that he will be the same way with his own children. Unruly and out of control, they need discipline, yet he's unsure of himself and hires a nurse to supervise them and take care of most of their needs. Although he resides on the estate, he's mostly an absent father - until Eloise shows up on his front door. Eloise is a much needed breath of fresh air to the stifling and depressing household. With her vast experience as Aunt Eloise to her many nieces and nephews, and her own dealings with siblings and a large family she knows just what to do to handle the mischievous twins and ultimately they accept her - though not without a few scrapes and bruises along the way.
But now you're thinking, "What about Phillip and Eloise? What's the story with them? What about their romance?" Well, they get off to a rocky start. He's unsure of himself, he's just about never wooed a potential bride before, and Eloise doesn't exactly make it easy for him. She a "pusher" and a "doer" and a "talker" and -- indomitable! She doesn't back down after they argue and although she experiences some doubts about whether Phillip would make her happy as a husband, she's no coward and gives him the benefit of the doubt. Before long, sparks begin to fly between them and thanks to Eloise's brothers, a marriage occurs before long (though there is some shooting involved, it is not a shotgun wedding.) I love her brothers, it's always a pleasure to see the Bridgerton's take a united stand for one another, and they are a much needed source of humour to relieve the melancholy tone of this particular romance.
I enjoyed this book very much, and there were a few steamy scenes, though I must admit, so far it's been my least favorite of the series. As I said before in the last book I reviewed, I'm not fond of themes that involve abuse or death, I like something frothy and lighhearted to satisfy that romance craving of mine. Though, I must say I love the name they chose for their first born! Very sweet!