Sunday, February 19, 2012
For three years, Lady Veronica Smithson has been perfectly happy as a widow-and thoroughly independent. Still, the right gentleman could provide the benefits of marriage without the tedious restrictions. And in Sir Sebastian Hadley-Attwater, renowned explorer and rogue, Veronica is sure she has found him. Sebastian will come into his inheritance in a matter of weeks-if his family deems him responsible enough. There's no better way to prove his maturity than with a wife. But though Veronica will share his bed, she refuses to marry. However, Sebastian has a plan: An intimate sojourn at his new country house will surely change Veronica's mind. For Sebastian never takes no for an answer. And he intends to persuade his Christmas mistress that they belong together-in this, and every season to come. . .
I adored this Victorian romance about a lively widow who sets her sights on handsome explorer, Sir Sebastian Hadley-Attwater. He is the one. She's not interested in remarrying - she wants to be his mistress! Used to her independence, she has no intention of giving it up by marrying, no matter how handsome and adventurous Sir Sebastian is, particularly when he gets that look in his eye. Sebastian has other ideas, though. Eying the beautiful Veronica Smithson (and her hat) at a lecture he can't forget about her. Once introduced, he is instantly enamored of this outspoken and oh so appealing friend of his cousin. It's clear the attraction is mutual, but he realizes he wants more than a mistress - he wants to marry her! This was a scrumptious romance. I loved both the strong hero and heroine in this well done and sometimes poignant tale that brought tears to my eyes at the end.
The gist of the story is, Sebastian has to prove to his older siblings he is responsible so he can come into his inheritance. With a new house in the country and setting up housekeeping, all he needs is a wife and he'll be all set. Coincidentally he meets Lady Veronica around the same time. Perfect. She's gorgeous, wealthy in her own right, a consummate hostess and he can't stop thinking about her. He instantly decides she will be his future wife and goes about courting her as any gentleman would with the honorable intention of marriage. Much to Veronica's chagrin, he's too much of a gentleman. She was hoping for some wooing of another kind... the kind that Sir Sebastian has a reputation for with the ladies. Alas, when he ultimately proposes, she turns him down and makes a counter offer to be his mistress. Unfortunately, before he proposed he spilled the beans to his nosy sisters that he would be married by Christmas, confident that Veronica will accept his proposal. Uh oh.
After much wrangling over their difference of opinion, Veronica and Sebastian compromise. He agrees to a trial run at Christmas time to have Veronica become his mistress. Of course this is all in theory, they've barely even kissed! He invites her to spend Christmas at his country estate where they can "play house" and see if this mistress idea will work out. Of course, he's convinced he'll get her to come around and agree to marry him in no time. But, Veronica is determined to be a mistress, she does not want to marry - no matter how much he makes her heart flutter. Could it be love? Once at his estate things start off well until his entire family descends upon him! To make matters worse, they are all under the impression that Veronica is his wife and they are eager to welcome her into the family! His sisters (who are in the know) talk him into a half-baked idea to not tell Veronica about it - but you know this will never work.
Soon enough, the truth comes out - and the whole sticky business of the inheritance. If only Sebastian had told her about it! You can guess what Veronica thinks - and does. Still, I admired her aplomb. She didn't burst into tears or make a scene, but she wasn't happy either. Sebastian has some serious groveling to do to make it all right again - and he does, magnificently.
Trust me, this was a delightful romance that I ate up like candy. Veronica is my kind of heroine - no wilting lily, she is strong, confident, beautiful and not afraid to say what she thinks. But she also knows when it is wise to be tactful and keep her mouth shut (unlike her argumentative spinster aunt). The only thing going against Veronica is her crazy notion of being a mistress, which she has not thought through. Having never been one before, she really didn't think about the scandalous ramificationss that would ensue. Besides this point, Lady Veronica is an original heroine, I'll give her that and I had a smile on my face throughout this entire book. Plus, I loved Sebastian! Rugged in a blond scruffy kind of way, he stole my heart. He's sexy yet endearingly adorable all at the same time. I loved the way he fell for Veronica (a bit too quickly, I admit) and wanted to have a life with her in his new house that he's so proud of. When his family arrives en masse it was very amusing for he and Veronica have almost no time to test out their mistress theory! Here she is supposed to be his mistress instead of his wife, and he's paying the price for it and keeping the whole thing a secret from his siblings - and they haven't even been to bed together yet! The irony!
Victoria Alexander is a new to me author and I can't wait to read the next book in this series! All the characterizations, descriptions of outfits, furnishings, etc. are first rate and faithful to the Victorian period. Do yourself a favor and get this book, it was a total delight and I'm eager for more!