Reviewed by Mandi
This is the first I’ve ever read of Sharon Page and I like her voice. The set-up is very Downton Abby-ish – a grand estate in England needs money. Enter our heroine, Zoe Gifford. From New York, Zoe’s mother is in some gambling debt and forged a check. Zoe has a ton of money in a trust fund, but the only way to access that fund, is if she gets married. Zoe is a very free-spirited New Yorker, who flies planes and isn’t afraid to speak her mind. One night while out, she meets a man named Sebastian and he agrees to marry Zoe as a ruse. He knows the estate and his brother, the Duke of Langford needs money, and Zoe needs a marriage to get her money. So they agree to marry, then will quietly divorce and everyone will be happy. But things aren’t that easy.
Zoe arrives in England to meet Sebastian’s family and she soon realizes marrying him may be complicated. Sebastian comes from a very rigid family steeped in old-English ways. They still dress in black-tie for dinner every night. The women are expected to marry well and become hostesses. They look upon Zoe as if she is an alien, flying planes and speaking inappropriately at dinner. The Duke of Langford aka Nigel, presents a very serious, dour character. Scarred from the war (both inside and out) he thinks Zoe is a ridiculous creature, but he is also totally intrigued. The way she speaks her mind and goes against all of his sturdy virtues.
The first half of the book deals with Zoe coming to England and falling for Nigel, and the second half is their struggle to bring a feisty New Yorker and a stodgy Englishman a happy ever after. Zoe is very, very forward, and I liked that about her for the most part. She encourages Nigel’s sister to live her own life. She brings spirit and energy into a family that is a little lost. I think at times she is a little too pushy for my taste, but overall she is a confident, independent woman. Nigel is all quiet and serious and it made for a fun opposites attract, match. There is very nice sexual tension and a build up to their relationship. While Zoe was originally supposed to marry Sebastian, his interests lead him to be attracted to men – so while he wants to do good by his family, it’s not the end of the world that Zoe ends their fake engagement.
For the most part I enjoyed this book, but I do feel like sometimes events are rushed – or maybe just the pacing was a little off as I read. There is conflict back in New York with the debts owed by Zoe’s mother that are glossed over a bit. The second half deals with how ready Zoe is to have sex every single day because she is a newlywed and how improper that is for Nigel. He gets embarrassed or doesn’t want to display too much public affection due to manners. They clash a lot. There is some other drama brought in and I just felt the entire end was rushed and a little too dramatic for my tastes. I sometimes felt Zoe was a little too selfish in her own ways and makes Nigel feel bad for not conforming to her more outlandish ways. I wanted her to be a little more patient.
Otherwise a nice read – I’ll definitely read the next by this author.