Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Proposition by Judith Ivory

Book Description:
No man, gentleman or otherwise, has ever looked at Lady Edwina Bollash the way the brash, handsome man standing before her is doing now. Edwina has accepted the challenge to transform incorrigible Mick Tremore into a gentleman in just six weeks. And although the linguist is sure she can rise to the task, she isn't at all certain she won't swoon under his frankly sensuous gaze before her job is done.  Mick has lived outside of London society long enough to know that appearances can be deceiving. Edwina might look all buttoned up—the perfect English lady—but there is unleashed passion existing just below her placid facade (not to mention a great pair of legs!). And as she prepares him to take his place in society, Mick prepares Edwina to take her place in his heart...and in his bed.

This book has it all, I loved it! Based on the same premise as one of my favorite plays, Pygmalion by Bernard Shaw, Edwina Bollash is a linguist who takes on a wager that she can turn Cornish/Cockney, ratcatcher, Mick Tremore into a gentleman in time to attend a grand ball. Mick is to die for - I simply loved him! Oh my, he's become a new favorite hero to add to my list! The sexual tension that builds between these two is magnificently written.

Mick Tremore grew up in Cornwall with slews of siblings but moved to London to make a living and send money home to his family.  Despite the sound of it, he's proud of his profession - as a ratcatcher - he's good at it too!  He has a pet ferret or two that help as well catch them.  One day, while trying to catch a mouse at a modiste's shop in London, he spies a pair of gorgeously long legs in a dressing room.  He is captivated - Mick is a "leg man" - the longer the better.  Will he ever be able to find out who the owner of those legs are?  Before he can work on that problem, all hell breaks loose in the shop and he winds up running for his life and winds up in a tea shop.  One thing leads to another - as in Pygmalion and two young men - twins - make a wager that Mick could be passed off as a gentleman at a fancy ball.   Edwina who has stepped in to help Mick from the snafu he has landed in at the moment impulsively agrees to be his linguistic coach and teach him to be a gentleman.  Mick agrees to it for he's promised a certain amount of money if he succeeds.

Little do Mick and Edwina know what sort of mayhem develops, for Mick moves into her townhouse (to the horror of her staff!) and she begins her daily lessons.  Just getting him to take a bath for the first time with her stoic butler was hilarious!  Mick is an original - and he's instantly attracted to Edwina, with her spectacles and buttoned up collars and sensible boots.  He audaciously makes it plain what he'd like to do to her as they become closer and has all sorts of tricks up his sleeve to get his way.  Be still my heart, the tension that builds between the two of them is amazingly carried out.  Once he gets wind that she's the owner of the tantalizing long legs he admired at the dress shop - there's no holding back.  He must see them - naked... on a raised table - as if a pedestal (not unlike the ancient myth of Pygmalion and Galatea).  What amazed me is how Edwina goes along with it!  Although on second thought, it's not so amazing because as Mick is becoming more and more like a gentleman, she's becoming more and more enamored of him!  He's really starting to resemble a lord - he's the air about him, the looks, the hands - the accent.  He's a quick study - amazingly quick - maybe too much.

I won't spoil any more of the plot, but trust me this is a great, great romance!  I'm not nearly doing it justice in this short review, but it's witty and has strong characters in both Edwina and Mick.  He is simply fabulous, but Edwina easily holds her own with him.  They are great together.   His personality dazzles, he charms everyone - plus his looks are to die for - except for his mustache.  Did I forget to mention his mustache?  The mustache - his pride and joy?  In the late Victorian era when this book takes place, many men sported a mustache and beard and Mick is oh so proud of his.  It's long and thick, luxuriant, walrus-like (or so I imagine it to be) and guess who hates it!  Edwina wants him to get rid of it pronto!  He agrees and makes a bargain - just how do you think he gets her up on top of that table revealing her legs to him?  Ooooh, it was rich!

Besides the obvious story of turning Mick into a gentleman and whether or not it's possible, there was also the side of the story of Edwina falling for a common man - can she?  Can she overlook his humble beginnings?  As the granddaughter of a duke, it's unheard of and would be considered quite a step down in Society.  She'd be an outcast.  But her feelings for him are strong - more than just wanting to have him in her bed - she cares for him - she's fallen in love with the big lug.  Then, there's Mick's side to consider - does he really want to leave his ratcatcher life and become a "gent" and speak well so he can become a valet for some nob up in Newcastle?  He knows better.  He can't possibly expect her to marry a valet.  If he does go to far away Newcastle - uggh, just the thought of it - it's the same place Wickham and Lydia were ignominiously sent to in Pride and Prejudice! Will Edwina ever see him again?  Doubtful.  What happens after the ball?  As the dreaded big night nears both must face truths about their feelings for one another and the realities of British Society in the late nineteenth century.  It seems hopeless... As the night of the ball gets closer, things heat up more and more between them, to the point of no return.  At the same time,  we also learn the truth of what the real wager is all about with the twin gentlemen and what they're up to.  It all comes to head on the climatic night of the ball as family secrets are revealed, but it's also a bittersweet revelation, yet maybe an answer to their dilemma - oooh! How I loved it!

Read this book, buy it on kindle (as I did) or track it down somewhere else in print - it's a keeper and worthy of a re-read.  Mick is one of those unforgettable heroes and Edwina is the lucky gal that gets him!



Kristin said...

Yet ANOTHER book to add to my wishlist. Lol!


The_Book_Queen said...

Great review-- I can hear how excited you are to share this book recommendation with us! :D I know I haven't read this one, but it is definitely going on my list---even without your rave review, it sounded like a good one, with it? Well, it sounds like a book I simply CANNOT pass up! :D


Julie at Outlandish Dreaming said...

Kristin - I hope you love it as much as I did!

TBQ - you betcha I'm excited! This was such a fun book to read, I'm wondering if her other books are as good, any idea, have you read any by this author, this was my first.

Kristie (J) said...

I really enjoyed this one and mourn the loss of this author's books. I was a bit disappointed at the end though. I think I would have preferred not to have that little twist

Julie at Outlandish Dreaming said...

Hi Kristi, what do you mean you mourn the loss of her books - is she no longer writing?

Yes, the twist at the end made it all too pat, but it appealed to my romance novel snobbish tendencies. :D

Kristie (J) said...

It's been a number of years since her last book and she seems to have dropped completely off the radar :-(

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