Reviewed by May
Though he won’t admit it, the reclusive Viscount Kirk is very much in love with his neighbor Dahlia Balfour. He was badly scarred (emotionally and physically) by an accident that left his first wife dead, and he hides from society. Now though, wanting to win Dahlia’s hand in marriage he’s turned to a Duchess friend and her house party in hopes to get Dahlia’s attention at last.
Dahlia wants the kind of romance where she is swept off her feet. She is more annoyed and irritated by him than anything, so much so that she barely notices the great efforts he is going to – or the fact that these efforts to dress and act appropriately at the party are entirely for her.
I like Karen Hawkins as an author. She always does a nice job of sweeping you off into her fictitious world and writing stories that entertain. This story did not fail on those levels – it was quite amusing to watch the beastly Viscount Kirk try and win over the fickle Dahlia.
“You, madam, are trouble. You need a keeper. Someone who will monitor those high spirits of yours and keep them in check.”
“My spirits don’t need checking, nor do I need a keeper.” Dahlia looked at him through her lashes, noting that he looked less angry now, but far more perplexed. “I wouldn’t mind having a partner, though.”
“A partner in crime?”
“Among other things, yes.”
He was predictable, and a bit dull at times, but I enjoyed the banter and humorous moments he brought to the story. Of course (predictably) he’s the voice of reason and the clearly sane one in an over the top society.
Now I do love a good beauty and the beast story, and I love a nice historical house party with a matriarch matchmaker added in was a fun touch. The big problem though, is I didn’t feel the beauty brought anything to the story. She didn’t add to it, she didn’t contribute, and she didn’t have to work for anything.
She came off as the poor little rich girl who wants a certain kind of romance and she pouts when she doesn’t get it. She doesn’t give any credit to the fact that he has a complete make-over, that he’s spent months in training working on his manners and fashion and everything. She doesn’t ever even consider that it is all for her and that he is being supremely romantic despite the way he talks. So he doesn’t make big promises and declarations – but his actions repeatedly show how much he cares for her and how much he clearly loves her.
I don’t like such an imbalance in my characters, where one has to reach all the way while the other’s only contribution is to realize how far the person has grown/reached/moved the earth for them. This was my biggest issue with the book, but of course if she had been a more likeable character I’m not sure how the story would have worked out. A lot depended on both characters not seeing that he so clearly loved her.
As for Dahlia, well she acted like a spoiled girl and she had conditions on what she wanted and how a man should act that were superficial at best. So it made me question the depth of her love, the honesty of her emotions and if she was ready for her happily ever after.