Saturday, June 13, 2009
She thought she was the luckiest woman in London . . .
Surviving on a seamstress' income and a steady stream of fantasies, Prudence Bosworth has always longed for love and romance. Then she inherits a fortune from the father she's never seen, with the stipulation that she wed in one year. Prudence is determined to marry for true love, and after seeing firsthand the splendid chivalry of a certain duke, only one man will do . . .
Rhys de Winter, the Duke of St. Cyres, hides his cynicism behind a quick wit and an even quicker smile. He must marry an heiress, and as luck would have it, the pretty little seamstress-turned-heiress is exactly what he needs. But he never expected to fall for Prudence, and when his shocking deception is revealed, he will stop at nothing to win her back . . . even if it means renouncing every last one of his wicked ways.
Book two in the author's Girl Bachelor Series, I really liked this story of Prudence, a hard working, girl bachelor on the plump size, who is a seamstress for a fashionable modiste in London in 1894 that unexpectedly comes into a vast fortune when her long lost father dies and leaves it to her. Never marrying her mother, Prudence was born illegitimate and never even knew about her father. Suddenly, Prudence's world is turned upside down. The one condition of her inheriting her millions is she must marry within one year and the trustees of the estate must approve of her husband. Enter Rhys, the Duke of St. Cyres, a known fortune hunter, rake and cad who is up to his eyeballs in debt. He must marry a girl with a fortune or else... Of course, it doesn't hurt he's tall, handsome, fair-haired and utterly charming.
I liked Prudence from the start, but I had trouble with Rhys. For the first half of the book he really is a cad. After rescuing a friend of Prudence's from being raped, he winds up seducing and bedding the girl himself! Although he admired Prudence ever since the first time he saw her when she is still a lowly seamstress working at a ball one night, he sets his sights on her once he learns of her fortune, but he lies about knowing about it. Their whole courtship on his part is one big lie, all the way up to his proposal, which she happily accepts. He does it so cleverly she doesn't suspect a thing, though he does tell her the truth about himself being in debt, etc. but he makes her think he loves her when (at this point) he really doesn't. This didn't sit well with me, but by the end, he redeems himself after she breaks their engagement and he decides he must win her back, money or no.
Prudence, a spinsterish 28 year old seems to be a bit too naive for someone that has lived on their own for 11 years, and even harder to believe she's managed to remain a virign that whole time. But, she is likable and has a good heart and is thrifty and sensible. But the duke turns her head and she stops thinking rationally when it comes to him. No matter how much if was just staring her in the face that he was only marrying her for her money, and no matter how much her relatives were telling her he has a terrible reputation and is nothing more than a gold digger - she wouldn't listen! She was star struck by him from the beginning and it's not until she learns of his deceit that she turns the tables on him and gives him back a taste of his own medicine. She breaks off the engagement and lets him know just what she thinks of him. Good for her!
A cute story that does end happily with a few steamy romance scenes thrown in for excitement. I recommend this series if you're unfamiliar with it. I loved the first in it, And Then He Kissed Her about Emma and her Viscount Marlowe who return in this for a few scenes. I enjoy reading about this period as well, just before the turn of the century, not the most common time period in romances.