Lady Camille Pryce walked into her wedding ceremony, got one look at the groom, and bolted. Oh it wasn’t that he was terribly unattractive or had done anything to her. Rather, it was the complete and utter lack of his action that had her running. A romantic at heart, she had never once spoken to her betrothed (they were engaged by arrangement of their parents as children) – and she wanted more for her life than that.
I walked through the church doors with my father beside me, and there was nothing. No flowers, the smallest number of witnesses possible, no ribbons on the coach waiting outside. And when I caught sight of him… he was looking at his pocket watch. As though he had somewhere he’d rather be.”
Keating bent his arm, offering it to her. Almost without thinking she wrapped her fingers around his sleeve.
“Do you know what it’s like, to have your every dream and imagining simply… die all at the same time? To realize whatever romantic idea you had of the person with whom you’re meant to spend the remainder of your life was wrong? I had this odd sensation that if I took one more step into that church, I would expire. There on the floor.”
Our story opens a year later and the Ton is still making fun of her jilted fiancé. Camille works for the Tantalus club (a gentleman’s gaming club that employs only women) and clearly chose a life of working and being exiled from society over marrying him. His pride is wounded, and he feels the best way to get that back is to make her marry him.
Ah, but banned from the club, he can’t get to Camille so he decides to hire his cousin Keating – aka Bloody Blackwood – to convince his fiancée to return to the alter. He is going to give her a second chance to be his bride and will pay his cousin 10,000 pounds if he can succeed. Money that Keaton needs to help support the result of bad choices he made (and still pays for) from his youth.
Keating has been living a very modest (and frequently drunk) life in the country and has not set foot in London since the events that left him on trial and his lover’s husband dead. He is reminded of and pays for his once wild ways and is determined not to return to that lifestyle – or ever be with another woman who is already married.
Naturally, he is conflicted when he meets and is instantly intrigued by Camille. He wins her friendship and trust quickly and the pair become unlikely friends. Unafraid for his reputation, and uncaring what society is going to think of him he acts as he wishes– and in the ways that will get him the results that he wants.
What he doesn’t count on is falling for Camille, not wanting her to choose going back to his cousin. At the same time – he needs her to go back so that he can get his 10,000 pounds.
What I love about Suzanne Enoch and cannot possibly convey in my own words strongly enough is how fantastic her writing is. Her characters come to life on the pages and I found myself hopelessly sucked into this world and wondering how they would work it out, or what outrageous thing Keating would do next to draw negative attentions away from Camille.
They fall in love despite themselves – and neither quite knows what to do with it. I love this quote:
Camille took a step back in his direction. Back toward the chaos and infamy that he represented. That small movement nearly did him in, and he snapped at the driver to leave before he could do something even more foolish and kiss her. Because apparently even with the evidence of his past sins splattered on the ground around her feet, she still liked him. And that wasn’t supposed to happen.
Camille does indeed fall for Keating, and I found them as a couple really satisfying. While I had issues upon reflection about some of their actions and decisions, they really are a fantastic couple and I enjoyed reading their story.
There are certain complications and details that once the characters face simply fall apart and I found myself wondering what the point was. From the issue of money to the fiancé who wasn’t a bad guy so much as he was a pompous ass, the conflict wasn’t great. Indeed, the obstacles were flimsy at best and without them there is not any real conflict or reason for Camille and Keating not to run off together.
As I write and re-write this review it would seem I really can’t say more without adding in a good amount of spoilers to explain my issues, so I will end here. If the premise intrigues you and you enjoy a good character-focused (vs action/plot focused) story with a love triangle (of sorts) to the very end I would recommend this. Otherwise, I would strongly recommend checking out this author’s back list because she writes amazing characters and stories I can’t get enough of.