Reviewed by May
On her third season and with no prospects in sight, Charlotte is an heiress who longs to be free of her mother and to be able to make her own choices. Is it so much to ask that she be able to do what she wants now and then? That she not have to be scrutinized by the Ton every time she steps out her front door? Charlotte has a solution of sorts – she dresses exactly as she pleases in bold color and wild combinations of fabrics and colors.
Charlotte reasoned, as she always did when she ran through the argument in her head, she wanted to be liked for who she was, not what she wore.
Charlotte is smart, she asks a lot of questions, and is simply an honest person which of course lands her in all kinds of trouble. While Charlotte has been dubbed “the abomination” for her shocking lack of fashion sense, there is a gentleman in town named David who just arrived from India that is judged in precisely the opposite way.
… made him feel as though he were being valued for his looks, not his brain. Something he’d fought ever since that growth spurt over ten years ago.
It had been a source of personal satisfaction, in fact, that he had applied for – and gotten – his current position without an in-person interview. He had been judged entirely on his merits, not on his visage.
When these two meet David is appalled by her choices in fashion, but also disturbed that his usual smooth manor and way with words has deserted him. He finds he blurts out truths and that she has him completely off balance. More disturbing? He likes it. So while he is unhappy with the assignment from her uncle, he quickly finds that pretending to court Charlotte will be no hardship.
“But wouldn’t you rather be exceptional, Lady Charlotte? Be someone no one could ever forget having seen? Prove that you are more than the cut of your gown, of the curl in your hair?”
I love that he in no way tries to change her, or make her dress more like other ladies. Instead of secretly loathing her clothes, he finds that the boldness and shocking choices suit her perfectly.
“I cannot think when confronted with what you choose to put on your body, but that does not mean I do not applaud your inspiration to wear it.”
What I loved the most is that these two genuinely come to like each other, to get to know each other as friends of a sort before really falling in love. Charlotte admits to herself that it would be easy to fall in love with his pretty face – but that isn’t what gets her. It is clearly the man inside that counts. They spend time together talking, he answers her (never ending) questions, they truly just enjoy being together with a person who sees and appreciates who they really are.
Not only did I find this book wildly romantic, not only did I adore these characters, but I also was really surprised and delighted by the emotional depth and sense of urgency this book had. I was genuinely anxious about how they would come together and if Charlotte’s mother would do something terrible like marry her off in her sleep or something equally ridiculous (yet totally possible given the woman in question). In short, this author swept me fully into the lives of these characters and gave me reason to worry, laugh, even get misty eyed at some more tender moments.
I do have one problem with this book, and that is in no way did the fashion column that Charlotte is supposed to write in her friend’s absence work. I found the columns (at start of each chapter) boring and mostly skipped them. I didn’t find that her writing the column added to the story, nor did I buy that she wanted to spend time with David for her fashion column. She liked him right from the start, it was merely an excuse. I felt that the sole reason for this column was to create a situation at the end that would propel the plot forward. The problem is – it was totally unnecessary. In fact I strongly disliked the way that it played out and I wish that entire part had simply been removed.
I think that Charlotte and David would have just as easily found their way to happily ever after without the meddling. They were such a wonderful couple, and surrounded by a great cast of supporting characters as well. My one complaint aside – really this was a great story. I will definitely be picking up books by this author in the future – I was delighted and truly entertained by this book. I recommend it most heartily.