Sunday, January 15, 2012
Abigail Mercer was breathless with anticipation at being reunited with Spencer Law, whom she met once and later married by proxy. But now the dashing Viscount Ravenswood denies all knowledge of their union! Far too many witnesses have made it impossible for the secretive Spencer to reject his "bride" without causing a scandal. So he has proposed a marriage in-name-only until they can locate his mysteriously absent younger brother - who is responsible for everything! - and untangle this messy affair.
Abigail is incensed, irate...and irresistibly attracted to this handsome, infuriating man who hides his smoldering passion behind a proper exterior. So the lady will agree to his terms on one condition: Spencer must seal their bargain with a kiss. But he finds that one deep, lingering, unforgettable kiss isn't nearly enough. And keeping his hands off his pretty wife is going to be much harder than he thought...
Last of the Swanlea Spinster Series, though this can be read as a standalone, I was a bit deflated by this historical romance. Maybe it was because it was the last of the series, or maybe because it was just "okay", nothing about it really grabbed me, despite an interesting premise. My main gripe with it was Spencer, the hero of the story. He had his appealing moments, but his overbearing take charge manner created too many problems and angst and I found I had little sympathy for him. Bottom line: if the hero doesn't do it for me, I'm not going to love the book.
Former spymaster Spencer, the Viscount of Ravenswood (from the previous book in the series) finds out he is married by proxy to the beautiful American, Abby Mercer, whom he eyed the year before while visiting his younger brother Nat, in Philadelphia. He soon learns that he can thank his brother for this bizarre turn of events that finds him married. Fresh from America, Abby shows up on Spencer's doorstep in London, thinking she is married to him (on paper) but that's not the case at all! To avoid scandal, they must pretend they are really married while Spencer tries to get to the bottom of how this all came about. His brother Nat has disappeared, so Spencer and Abby must pose as happily married newlyweds in front of the ton. This poses a problem, for despite their mutual attraction to one another, Spencer has a deep dark secret that prevents him from marrying. Hence his intentions to dissolve the marriage as soon as he can. But his growing feelings for Abby makes it harder and harder for him to keep his vow of remaining a bachelor. So what does he do? He keeps pushing her away, then succumbing to her charms, and then pushing her away again - thus hurting her feelings over and over. Uggh. She has no knowledge of his secret, so she's confused and distraught over the mixed signals he's sending her.
Meanwhile, back in Philadelphia, Abby's father manufactured a special elixir knows as "the Mead" which Spencer's brother, Nat invested in while he was in America. When Abby's father died, she took it upon herself to continue the manufacturing of it. Nat, who believed his brother needed a wife, arranged and forged the marriage between the two by proxy which gave him the rights to manufacture the Mead. Upon her father's death, Abby travels to London (with her Scottish maid - whom I liked) to take her place as her husband's bride and work out the details of manufacturing "the Mead". Of course, nothing happens as it should. Abby tries to fit into London Society, uncomfortable because Spencer keeps assuring her that their marriage will eventually be dissolved, even though they have to keep "pretending" until Nat is found. Not an easy task. To further complicate matters, the biggest gossip monger in town discovers Abby's Mead and decides to sponsor her. Lo and behold, it becomes a huge success as a perfume and becomes the hit of London's fashionable set! Still, Abby and Spencer are having a hard time of it with his constant warring over his feelings for her. He's used to running things to the point where he believes he must control every aspect of her role as his wife. Basically he's being an ass and he can't stand the temptation she is to him! I could have killed him!
This wasn't a bad romance but Ravenswood's constant and overbearing behavior with no explanations to Abby drove me crazy and I found I had less and less sympathy for him. He did some pretty jerky things to her, but she forgave him, of course, once his secret and motivation was revealed. Still...
Also, I'm scratching my head over the cover, as far as I can recollect, there was no bathtub scene like this in the book.