What I read this week:
“Save your shiny armor and white horse for something better than my sensibilities.”
This was such a lovely romance.
The hero, Eli Dawes, Earl of Rivers, rides off to war a cocky, young rake and returns home many years later a broken, wounded man. He would have rather disappeared and never returned at all, but when his father passes solicitors are hired to find him and bring him home. So return he does, to his quiet estate in Dover, where he hopes to spend time alone and avoid the trappings of London society.
There is just one small problem… his estate has been leased out to the Haverhall School for Young Ladies and it is far, far from empty. This isn’t any ordinary finishing school either, but a progressive school that educates young ladies in fields that otherwise might be forbidden to them, such as medicine and architecture and engineering.
The heroine, Rose Hayward, is the sister of the school’s headmistress and functions mainly as an art teacher. Rose also takes commissions, both the mundane and the scandalous. Her great passion is painting portraits and revealing to the models the beauty that they might not see for themselves.
Rose and Eli have a history and a whole heck of a lot of pain and anguish between them. At one time they were friends, although Eli would have liked more. When Eli rode off he did so with his friend, and Rose’s fiancé, and a huge mess was left behind. A mess his friend made when he secretly published some awful cartoons he’d drawn about the women of the ton, Rose included. She has blamed Eli for what she assumed was his part in it for years and it’s not until he shows back up that she realizes he has no knowledge of what happened.
I liked Rose so much. Strong, honest, and not afraid to step outside social norms and be her own person. The broken, hesitant Eli at the beginning of the book transforms into a more self-confident man because she won’t let him hide away and she doesn’t give a crap about his scars. She has her own issues to deal with, left over from the betrayal of her fiancé. I think this couple and their dealings with each other were mature and honest, something I love to see in any romance.
I think my very favorite thing though, was how Rose viewed beauty and how she saw the world.
“Beauty can be found everywhere, should you only look. It is not a finite commodity. It changes with time and circumstance to become something new and different, but no less valuable. Your aunt is no less beautiful now than she was fifty years ago.”
So lovely. I can’t wait to read the next book in the series.
Other people would chase fiery passion and wild adventures. Raj was planning on stability and loyalty.
Nalini Singh’s latest contemporary romance delves into the Indian community and their tradition of arranged marriage.
Nayna Sharma agrees to an arranged marriage to make her family happy. She is the younger daughter, and after watching her parents grieve and worry over the many bad decisions her sister has made over the years, Nayna wants nothing more than for her parents to find joy as they look for the perfect man for their daughter. Sometimes being the perfect daughter can be too much, which is why she agrees to go with her bff to a house party and wear the shortest dress possible and maybe find a good-looking man to help her forget her husband hunt for a few hours. What she gets is Raj Sen, and he is almost too good-looking and their kisses are hot enough to burn them both to ash.
Family is everything for Raj Sen. Adopted as a young boy, he wants to be the best son he can be to his parents. That includes traditions, and rules, and finding the perfect wife and mother. His almost puts his search for a wife on hold when he meets a gorgeous, sexy woman a party one evening, only to discover later that week that she is one of the woman his parents want him to meet. Perfect.
I think this is my very favorite of Ms. Singh’s contemporary romances. I loved how Raj and Nayna worked so hard for their relationship, and how they really fought to maintain their individual identities. Their colorful, loving families brought all the love, laughter and drama that I’ve come to expect from this author who does familial, both blood and chosen, relationships so well. While not quite as open door as some of her previous novels, Raj and Nayna have a very sensual connection and I could feel the chemistry between them practically jump off the page. I absolutely adored how their love affair unfolded.
Final Grade- B+
My TBR and what’s up next:
Kill the Queen by Jennifer Estep- New series by one of my favorite authors. Review will be in next week’s Monday post.
An Easy Death by Charlaine Harris– Alternate history meets magic meets a gunslinger heroine. ♥ Review will post next Monday.
Three Mages and a Margarita by Annette Marie– I don’t remember who recommended this book to me, but I went and read the blurb and I was sold as soon as I read this in the blurb “Broke, almost homeless, and recently fired. Those are my official reasons for answering a wanted ad for a skeevy-looking bartender gig.” My KU read for the week.