Sunday, December 27, 2009

An Affair to Remember by Karen Hawkins

Book Description:
An arrogant earl looking for the perfect wife; a strong-minded governess determined to transform him into the perfect man--who will win?

I really enjoyed this regency romance, my first by this author. This is the first in her St. John Brothers/Talisman Ring series. Her previous book about their sister, The Seduction of Sara sets this series up, though I haven't read it yet. I intend to, for I really loved this and kept wishing I had already read Sara's story for she and her husband figure prominantly in this one. Particularly in the beginning.

This is the story of Anthony Elliott who is a wealthy bachelor earl. Anthony's unsavory stepbrother dies and leaves his five unruly children to Anthony. Not one to be overly alarmed, he figures he can handle his charges with no problem by hiring a governess to take care of them. Easier said than done. They scare off plenty of governesses and turn his estate into a shambles before he finally gives in and hires his sister Sara's best friend, Anna Thraxton. Anna has been forced to become a governess because her family has run out of funds, even though they come from an old and distinguished line. She has developed a reputation of being the best governess there is, though with a price. She is no longer accepted in polite society. Still, she makes the best of it and prides herself on her accomplishments. Although Anna and Anthony have met before, they did not get along, in fact they dislike one another! But, he's desperate, he needs her. She has no desire to work for him either, but he offers her an outlandish sum of money and it's too good to refuse. It can get her family back into society. She relents and agrees to tame his five wild banshees.

Normally this would be a predictable scenario, governess falls for English lord and he falls for her, blah, blah, blah. But Anna is a fiery and feisty strong willed redhead who gets under Anthony's skin, but not by being oh so beautiful and angelic. Instead, she is considered just short of beautiful due to her imposing Roman nose and they have a tendency at first to argue over everything! But, Anna is clever and knows how to get her way. Not only does she tame his kids, she manages to tame him as well, although he is a reluctant tamee.

Being the alpha male that he is, Anthony had to smarten up and see what is right in front of his face. Although he recognizes that Anna comes from a noble background and treats her accordingly, he's totally attracted to her and wants her in his bed! What gall! In this respect, he doesn't treat her with the respect she's due. He expects to take liberties with her. This is where Anthony is a total blunderhead. I often felt like slapping him and telling him to get some sense in his head! Instead of wanting to marry Anna, he thinks of her in terms as a mistress rather than a wife, when it's so clear she'd make him the perfect wife! But, he has already chosen a wife for himself, a very young proper ingenue type, Charlotte, who lives on the neighboring estate and doesn't even want to marry him. She's scared to death of him! It's so obvious she's not suited for him, but it's an arranged marriage and he sees no problem in marrying her and having Anna as his mistress. What an idiot!

Fortunately, Anna is not going to become anyone's mistress, as tempting as Anthony's great big bed is. She is proud and could never let her family name down that way. Instead, she continues on with her duties as governess, making headway with taming the little scoundrels and she even befriends the shy and cowering Charlotte by trying to teach her how to stand up for herself and prepare for her marriage. She pities Charlotte for she knows she's all wrong for Anthony. Deep down Anna knows she'd be the pefect wife for Anthony, but she's merely a governess and doesn't have a chance. Although... she does succumb to his charms eventually, and finally gets to try out that big bed of his, showing a complete disregard for what the servants must think - as well as the children! Heavens! Still, she has the good sense to decamp the estate the next morning, determined to never see Anthony again!

I really enjoyed reading this story, there were a lot of funny bits, and I loved the way Anna managed to evade Anthony and didn't want to be alone with him. Then, to make it even better, the plot thickens as Anthony's evil stepmother tries to mess things up and enlists the help of her scapegrace son, Rupert, a ne'er do well with no money who unexpectedly falls in love with the sheltered and shy Charlotte! The whole thing starts to read like a Shakespearean comedy with a big wrap up at the end! I loved it!

Give it a try, this was a fun read and I'm definitely going for the rest of this series!


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