Another new to me author for me to love! I was entertained. I think that is the biggest compliment I can give. The author knows how to make the reader laugh so hard they nearly hurt themselves as well as smile with a huge grin over the adorable parts and the unapologetic passion, and then turn around to have a few serious moments worrying over the danger scenes. Warning label: Not to be read in public if your laugh is a source of embarrassment for you. Trust me on this; you will laugh and hard.
The story opens when Gillian goes with her cousin Charlotte to a ball to enjoy the Season when young debutantes are launched into Society for the purpose of finding a good match. Gillian isn’t on the look out for a husband since she’s the poor American relation with the unfortunate habit of speaking her thoughts out loud and also getting into scrapes. Like setting the duchess’ prize window hangings on fire was a total accident for instance. She is just there to help support Charlotte or so she thinks until she catches the eye of the Black Earl of Wessex.
Noble Britton has a scandalous reputation. He is reputed to have killed his own wife and has a terrible temper. He already receives the cuts and snubs from others, but he could care less. He really does need an heir and made a woman who can help his traumatized mute son. He has a list of wifely traits that he looks for in a woman that amuses his two friends, but he is determined to be careful choosing his wife this go around. He believes no woman can be trusted and they are all just manipulators for their own benefit. Then he spots the tall fiery redhead who stands out against all the others. She is unique and he can’t stay away even when her blunders occur almost constantly around him. It takes him all of two days to determine that Gillian will be his. His list of the perfect wife is tossed aside and he’s determined to have her.
Noble and Gillian come together and their married life is one wild romp conducted under the eyes of Society who wait breathlessly for what the Wessexes will do next. Gillian is determined that she, Noble and Nick will be a happy family even if she has to chase Noble back and forth to Town to do it. Noble is scared of the feelings Gillian instills in him and he is determined to keep her at arms length. Someone is writing blackmail and threatening letters to Noble, spreading lies about him throughout Society and threatening to kill his son and wife. Noble is determined to get to the bottom of things, but Gillian is determined to help him and mayhem follows. It’s a marital battle royal when these two square off and it was a riot to the very end.
What to say… It is very much a wacky historical romantic romp where nearly anything goes. Full enjoyment is only possible if the reader just lets go and watches it all happen. It only makes a kind of sense and not the serious kind so don’t look for logic, authenticity, or normal. That being said, it isn’t utter lunacy either. There is a core plot that runs through all the hijinks with a mystery to solve involving the murder of the first Lady Wessex and a romance that develops between two unlikely people. And the romance is even pretty steamy with the new Lady Wessex not shy or inhibited, but a delightfully shocking surprise to her husband.
I should mention that even though this was predominantly a humorous plot; there is also a darker gothic-like theme running through it involving the mystery side. Elizabeth and her cohort got up to some pretty intense stuff and Nick being mute is a result of it. And even though there were mistresses in Noble’s past which is how Nick came along, he never cheats when he is married.
The characters in this story are developed, but there is no deep analysis going on. Gillian is good at heart, loyal, and full of life. For her its love at first sight and she immediately plans to rescue Noble even if it’s from himself. Noble is a brooder and he’s cynical of Gillian’s open affection after the number Elizabeth did on him in the past. He’s the straight guy in this comedy who secretly loves his wife, but has no idea what to do with her other than lose his temper and lecture or just love her as she is. The secondary characters are all great additions particularly Gillian’s Cousin Charlotte, Noble’s friend Rosse, Noble’s young son Nick, and the Wessex staff. Special mention to Gillian’s hilarious pets that have embarrassing physical complaints.
To wrap things up, this was great fun and I’m going back for more from this series. Those who enjoy romantic comedy in a historical setting between two passionate people should pick this one up.
My thanks to Sourcebooks Casablanca and Net Galley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.