Another lovely story from Diane Farr. Why have I only just discovered this author? She writes exactly the sort of tale I like to read – two people thrown together almost against their will, who oh-so-slowly fall in love. Now, the obstacle to their happiness in this case is one of those misunderstandings that would be cleared up in five minutes if they just sat down and discussed things, and normally I hate that, but in this case the obstacle is so outrageous and funny that I didn’t mind it at all.
Here’s the premise: when Celia Delacourt suffers the tragic loss of her entire family, she is relieved and grateful to be offered a home by her distant relative the Duchess of Arnsford, even though she suspects the Duchess has devious plans afoot. And when Celia learns what the plot is, she’s determined not to cooperate. But when she meets the Duchess’s son, Jack, she finds that he’s not at all what she’d expected.
I loved the way these two inched their way to an understanding. Jack is a delightful hero, for once not a rake or a scoundrel or a ne’er-do-well. He’s just a young man enjoying a certain freedom, and his wildness is harmless stuff. He’s generous to a fault, and befriends people that his mother definitely wouldn’t approve of (since they’re of lower rank and some are even, quite shockingly, commoners!). And although he starts his acquaintance with Celia with some subterfuge, he finds himself quite unable to maintain the facade in the face of her sweet nature and compassion. And Celia herself is a gentle soul who is also perfectly well able to stand up for herself, when necessary. So these two are definitely made for each other.
There’s a very nice little side romance going on, too, involving the stuffy fiancee from The Nobody. I approved of the author’s delicate touch here, not making Elizabeth fall violently in love, which would have been out of character, and inappropriate for the gentleman.
If I have a grumble at all, it’s that the book finished at 92% on my Kindle, the rest being filled with samples from other books. I was also a bit shocked that the author swept away Celia’s entire family in one fell swoop, although I suspect it was necessary to give her the happy family background in contrast to the much stiffer upbringing Jack had endured. A terrific read, with a lovely romantic ending. Five stars.