Sunday, July 25, 2010
Jordan Willis, the Earl of Blackmore, has played with the heart of many a society belle -- yet one stolen kiss impulsively planted on the soft, irresistible lips of the preacher's daughter proves his undoing. The prim and proper Emily Fairchild's innocent response sends desire surging through the notorious rake, and he can't forget her. Now, meeting Lady Emma Campbell, an outrageously flirtatious debutante, leaves the earl more shaken than ever -- for the brazen beauty is an uncanny double of the sweet Emily! Emily cannot reveal the reason for her scandalous masquerade - not even to the earl whose heated embrace awakens a sizzling passion. Her very life depends on convincing society that she is Lady Campbell, yet no disguise can hide her dangerous attraction to the earl. But does "Cinderella' dare risk losing her handsome "prince" by revealing that she is just a country girl?
I loved this book! I was so surprised, I had no idea I was going to fall in love with this story, since I wasn't really thrilled with the first in the series, The Pirate Lord, which was just okay.
Right away the story gets off to a good start with a major mix up. The virtuous and little known Emma Fairchild accidentally gets into a carriage during a masquerade ball with the notorious Earl of Blackmore. Both are under the wrong impression. He thinks he's taking home some merry widow looking for action, and she thinks the Earl is her cousin for they look exactly alike with their masks on. Once the mistake is realized, Emily, a rector's daughter, puts the Earl in his place. He is chastised but also intriguingly attracted to this little nobody. Not able to get a real good look at her in the moonlight, he asks her to remove her mask. She does so reluctantly and before we know it, they have one long, lasting, memorable kiss. Gentleman that he is, he drops her off back at the ball so she can maintain her reputation and they go their separate ways.
Months later Emily is forced to pose as her friend, Lady Sophie's cousin. She's blackmailed by Sophie's awful father who is trying to find out who Sophie attempted to elope with. The details are unimportant. The important part is Emily now becomes Lady Emma, daughter of a Scottish nobleman who is having her first season in London. Of course she bumps into Lord Blackmore right away and, having never forgotten that searing kiss in his carriage with the girl he hasn't been able to get out of his mind, he right away recognizes her and does everything he can to get her to admit to him who she really is and explain why she is partaking in this charade. Emily can't tell him for fear she'll be arrested for murder (complicated plotline with Sophie's father blackmailing her) so they go back and forth, back and forth. He's working on her any way he can, mostly by seduction, and she's tempted by him and tempted to tell him the truth.
Love conquers all and we have a happy ending, but it's a rocky road getting there. Jordan and Emily make a cute couple and I was rooting for them through the whole book and enjoying the way she'd play the coquette as Lady Emma, driving him crazy, but it did bother me over and over, why didn't she just tell him the truth about why she was posing as someone else? He's an earl after all, no matter what Lady Sophie's father could do, Jordan could have handled it. Fortunately it did all work out in the end, though I had issues with Jordan's heavy handedness in the way he dealt with Emily. At one point, he virtually kidnaps Emily, insisting that she tell him the truth or else. They go on this madcap ride in his carriage to Derbyshire from London, staying at inns alone (scandalous!) By this point, they've already done the deed, but I did feel sorry for her and the way he was putting her in a tough spot. Plus, he took forever to finally come around and realize that he loves her. Emily's words sink in eventually, teaching him about loving someone,
"It's not love that destroys. It's the lack of it."
Jordan's parents had an unhappy marriage before his mother died, and he saw how unhappy his father had been and then how his father lost his second wife after a wasting disease and how it broke his heart. Jordan did not want to risk love and be hurt the way his father was. It took this little nobody rector's daughter to convince him he was wrong - finally! I really did like him and didn't hold it against him that it took so long for him to come around eventually - I loved the story!
I can't wait to read the next book in this series! There was humor, passion and lots of excitement in this romance, I really enjoyed it and highly recommend. The characters and motivations were well developed (albeit frustrating!) and the side characters were entertaining too, like Lady Ophelia, Emma's "mother." This was well written, historically accurate and a real page turner, no dull parts or down time - I read it in one day. Sorry about the quick review, but take my word for it, this is a keeper!