This was a new to me author that I grabbed up the book to satisfy my holiday read fetish this time of year. I’m a big fan of historical romances and find they make for good holiday fodder as well with all the old traditions a part of the story. Added to the historical holiday fun, this enjoyable romp through the Regency era got a bit steamy and that’s without all the mistletoe decorating the houses featured in the story.
Lady Sophia Windham, a duke’s daughter who is well past her youth and settling into the role of dutiful daughter who cares for charity work, strays and her family’s needs, decides that she has earned some time to herself. Sophie tricks her family into believing that she has stayed in town visiting neighbors after her parents leave for the country house, but really she is planning to stay in the town house and enjoy some peace and quiet all to herself where she doesn’t have to see her parents and older brothers who are all happily married when she is disheartened of ever finding someone to love her.
Sophie is not alone for long due to a set of circumstances that result from a housemaid ditching her baby son with Sophie and a storm bringing a chance traveler in the form of Vim Charpentier who knows about babies and needs a place to stay.
Sophie chucks propriety out the window and hides the fact that she’s a duke’s daughter so that Vim will stay and help her with the baby and maybe fulfill a few of her romantic wishes. Vim keeps back things from Sophie too and finds himself just as willing to toss aside society’s rules to be with Sophie and the baby even after he shows her the ropes.
Vim and Sophie share an intimate and passionate idyll for a few days before reality in the form of her brothers comes crashing in. And then what seemed so simple and right becomes complicated and all wrong setting them along paths that will permanently separate them unless fate or their conniving families take a hand.
The plot was one that I found mostly enjoyable and a little bit frustrating. It was enjoyable in that I really enjoyed the characters and most aspects of the story line. Sophie is, up to this point, a virginal heroine, but she is not silly and swooning. Sophie is full of common sense and has a selfless giving spirit. When the story begins, I loved this couple together. They shared more than just physical attraction. They were really good together and for each other. I loved the blend of sweet with hot moments. This is why I found their decision to part so frustrating and I really didn’t get Sophie’s about face in her feelings for Vim. I just couldn’t understand what was keeping them apart and I spent quite a bit of the story growling for them to just T-A-L-K. It was only toward the end that I was given the information that explained their hang-ups. Somehow, I think I would have been much less frustrated if I understood early on that Sophie misunderstood Vim’s intentions. The author didn’t say (or maybe she did and I missed it) that Sophie thought Vim was insulting her with a sordid offer instead of an offer of marriage when he thought her a servant and that it seemed like after he discovered her real persona that he changed it to offer marriage. Now if I had known she thought that, then I would have understood her change in attitude for him. And on top of that, he hadn’t mentioned the ‘l’ word (no the other ‘l’ word ‘love’) when he did offer marriage and I can’t fault the girl for turning down what she thought was a marriage offer out of duty.
The escapades of their respective families were the lighter part of the story and great fun to read especially when they were conniving on Vin and Sophie’s part. Little baby Kit deserves a mention along with Sophie’s menagerie of orphaned animals (now doesn’t a three-legged male tom cat named Elizabeth just strike you as funny?) as a wonderful part of the plot.
While it is technically the first book in a sub-series, The Duke’s Daughters, it probably would have been better to read after the three books from the Windham series featuring the brothers. I had no trouble reading the book without having read the others, but there were several hints to things from the other books that now I will definitely being going back to read.
I can recommend this one if you’re looking for a light Regency holiday romp full of steamy romance and fun family interference.
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