While I have been a romance fan for about 25 years, until recently I hadn’t actively sought out new authors. I followed recommendations of friends and always bought the newest Nora Roberts. Other than that, I skipped around between a wide variety of books whose covers and descriptions appealed to me. I assume that most of my friends and the casual romance reader are like I was, so if you are a romance fan who follows every new release and knows all the names in the biz, I apologize if this review is rehashing what you already know. But, I simply couldn’t NOT review this book in case someone who hasn’t found Lisa Kleypas yet happens to come across my humble website or review. Yep, it’s that good, and if you enjoy historical romance, I almost suggest that you dispense with reading the rest of this review and just go get this book.
The Story– Evie has some seriously screwed up relatives who are keeping her from her dying father and like to beat her every now and then for fun. She decides that the only escape from these horrible people is to elope so that her new husband can protect her. Fortunately, she knows a desperate rake who will overlook her stutter and shyness in favor of marrying her for her fortune. Sebastian is proud of how many notches he has compiled on his bedpost. In fact, I’m not sure how the bed would still be standing with that many notches, but he is willing to settle down, at least in name only, in order to set up a comfy future for himself.
My Thoughts – Yes, it’s a marriage of convenience story, but it is so well-done that you will likely hold it as a standard for like stories in the future. A couple of times while I was reading in the car rider line at my daughter’s school, I actually felt disappointment when the line started moving because it meant I had to put the book down. Now that’s saying something. The characters are well-developed, and motivations are brilliantly set up so that there is no confusion. I was unaccustomed to reading a historic romance (other than Outlander) which incorporates actual historic tidbits and info as well as extremely detailed setting. Often the only hint that you are in the past is that people use titles, attend balls, and cannot be left alone. Not so with Ms. Kleypas. I usually talk about world-building in response to paranormal books, but even though this is a historical, the world-building rivals anything I’ve seen elsewhere.
The Good– Although difficult to choose, my favorite element of this book is the characters. They are fully developed and complex, which makes it feel like you are witnessing friends fall in love rather than broadly-drawn archetypes. The plot never lags, and the set-up doesn’t feel contrived. The sex scenes are some of the best I’ve read with the perfect amount of heat (for me) with no odd descriptions that took me out of the story.
The Bottom Line– This is one of the best historical romances I’ve ever read, and I am almost afraid to read more Lisa Kleypas in case they don’t measure up. But then I realized, an even-slightly worse version of this book would be better than 90% of the other books I’ve encountered. So, I will be diving into the back catalog, and I, like other romance fanatics will be waiting with bated breath for February when “Devil in Spring” is released as it features the son of these characters and has one of the most beautiful covers I’ve ever seen. This is one of those books that makes me grateful that I read romance.