Reviewed by May
Favorite Quote: Nothing said “home” to a Smythe-Smith male like badly played music.
Once upon a time there was a sweet young foolish girl who made a bad choice. She was sent from her home, forced to live under an assumed identity, and could no longer see her family. She moved a few times, but was currently comfortable as a governess to a few nice young girls of the Smythe-Smith family.
One fateful night of the annual Smythe-Smith musical, one of the scheduled performers managed to weasel out of it (they know they’re not good), and Anna was volunteered to step into her place. Little did she know at the time that this was the night that Daniel Smythe-Smith, Earl of Winstead, would return home after several years hiding on the Continent after a duel gone bad.
Indeed, having made peace with his former friend and having the hunt called off for his head, he is able to resume his place as head of family, the Earl of Winstead. He watches the performance from the wings, and is instantly intrigued by the young lady (most definitely not his cousin or sister!) playing. From that night forward he’s scheming to have the governess in his life and in his bed.
I found Daniel and Anna to be charming individually as well as a couple. Their conversations were always interesting, their budding romance and interest in one another fun to watch. While I found it hard to believe they were so instantly smitten, or quite so comfortable with one another so quickly, the story was a delightful read. I liked how each has a past, each has paid for it, and while their stories are wildly different, the exile and consequence that each faced leaves them very much the same – alone and unhappy.
Right off the bat they share an embrace and a kiss. Minutes later she is helping care for Daniel after he tussles with his sister’s suitor (you can read all about that in the previous book) – and she is trying to assess how hurt he is.
“Is that the point of fighting? To make sure one’s opponent emerges in a worse state than oneself?”
“Do you know, I think it might be. Foolish, wouldn’t you think?” He looked at her with a strange, ponderous expression. “It’s what got me sent out of the country.”
The first book in this series, about Daniel’s sister Honoria, disappointed me wildly. It was slow, it stalled out in the middle, it was in no way satisfying. I was glad that this book was none of those things. Sparkling dialogue, a plot with some suspense that moves right along, and characters that are in lust at first sight all made for a fun read.
“This kiss,” he said, his voice burning with tightly held desire. “This kiss… I wish for it with a fervor that shakes my soul. I have no idea why I wish it, only that I felt it the moment I saw you at the piano, and it has only intensified in the days since.”
She swallowed, and the candlelight danced across her delicate neck. But she didn’t say anything. That was all right; he had not expected her to.
“I want the kiss,” he said huskily, “and then I want more. I want things you cannot even know about.”
They stood in silence, eyes locked.
“But most of all,” he whispered, “I want to kiss you.”
And then, in a voice so soft it was barely more than a breath, she said, “I want it, too.”
Towards the end I found the suspense plot with the heroine to be disappointing. Without revealing spoilers – it just didn’t work for me. The problem, I think, was that I was never really concerned about it. While creepy, Quinn never managed to scare me with her villain or make me believe the heroine was in any real danger.
That, and the issue of the love at first sight that I found hard to believe aside, there was one last strike against this couple. His name, is Hugh and he is the reason our hero was living in exile for years. The man that was so injured in the duel, and Daniel’s good friend. Yes, for me Hugh stole the book. He was far more interesting than Daniel and I found myself hoping to hear more from him, catch a glimpse of him, and find out his side of the story. Alas, we got very little. But I would wager that he’ll be back – at least I hope so!
Overall this was a fun and light romance from Quinn, and while not a favorite story still a strong read, and more along the lines of the kind of fun historical fiction that the author is known for.