Miss Winters Proposes by Frances Fowlkes

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Juliet Winters has come up with a wonderfully devious plan to avoid marrying her vile cur of a cousin. First, she’ll propose marriage to her handsome, reclusive neighbor, Lord Colwyn. Then, once she has both name and financial support, she’ll be able to pursue her true (if rather unladylike) passion – breeding dogs. But when Lord Colwyn rejects her proposal… Juliet must take matters into her own hands.

The last thing Benjamin Colwyn expected was for the spirited Juliet to blackmail him into marriage — especially not by kidnapping his beloved canine companion. Yet despite his yearning for peace and isolation, he finds himself wanting to help her, if only to protect her from a marriage to a disreputable scoundrel. He certainly doesn’t expect the woman who pilfered his dog to steal his heart, as well…

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Publisher and Release Date: Entangled: Scandalous February 2015

RHR Classifications:
Time and Setting: Surrey, England; 1818
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 4 Stars

Review by Natalie

Miss Juliet Winters loves two things; her independence and her dogs. She has all but taken over her father’s breeding kennel and has produced several fine pups, readying them for hunting. Unfortunately, as her father’s health has declined, Juliet realizes that a most uninviting match has been made between her and his heir, her much older, untrustworthy cousin, Mr. Fredrick Winters.

Juliet is desperate, and as we all know, desperate times call for desperate measures. In a last ditch effort to escape the grasp of her politically-conniving cousin, Juliet shows up on the doorstep of her neighbor, Lord Colwyn, to propose marriage.

Benjamin Colwyn enjoys his solitude and after a troubled past he has decided that the only real companionship he seeks is from his dog, Artemis. Retiring to his country estate has also allowed him to put off shouldering the responsibility for his family title, an obligation that has only recently fallen to him after the death of his older brothers. He is stunned by the impropriety of the gentlewoman before him. His answer, of course, must be no. But what he hasn’t counted on is that his lovely spurned suitor has a contingency plan. She has kidnapped his dog and is refusing to return the animal until Lord Colwyn agrees to offer her shelter.

The first chapter of Miss Winters Proposes offers everything a reader could ever want in a historical romance: a spirited damsel in distress who is already searching for a way to save herself; a steadfast, strong hero who recognizes and admires the spunk in the woman in front of him; and an outlandish plot that forces two very different people into cahoots. It helps that Colwyn has a definite past with Juliet’s cousin and knows that if he doesn’t help her he will be leaving her in the hands of a scoundrel. I read this first chapter and was immediately hooked; actually, I re-read it before continuing with the book because it seemed like the prefect scene. In fact, Frances Fowlkes has written several ‘perfect’ romance scenes into this book starting with Juliet’s proposal and Colwyn’s acceptance, their first, surprising kiss and their wedding night.

The early plot uses Juliet’s cousin as a dark force who drives the two fictitious lovers together and later, their own issues work to keep them apart. Lord Colwyn is equal parts romantic, Austen-inspired hero and Bronte-like brooding worrier, while Juliet is the Regency period’s answer to todays ‘manic pixie’ heroine. Ms Fowlkes may have helped plant that idea into my head, as she has Colwyn refer to Juliet as a ‘pixie’, because of her red curls and lovely face.

As the two begin to find a comfortable-warmth together, they are confronted with the birth of Artemis’s pups, which does not go as planned. Juliet ends up unfairly taking the blame for the botched whelping and feels that she must honor their original agreement by removing herself from Lord Colwyn’s home and returning to her own ancestral home to continue their marriage in name only.

Lord Colwyn’s fears about losing the people he loves most in his life leads him to unjustly push Juliet away. This whole turn is frustrating to read and, as a modern woman, makes me want to give a good talking to Lord and Lady Colwyn. But even so the characters are seen to play their parts perfectly and in the end you finish the book sighing to yourself. Lord Colwyn is the type of male lead I can see myself falling in love with and Juliet is the type of Regency heroine that I want to be. In fact I finished the book wishing they had a few more early scenes together, prolonging the ‘will they won’t they?’ portion of their love story and any story that makes you wish it were longer is a good one in my book!

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