Lady Penelope de Vere has been in love with Rake for as long as she can remember, daydreaming over him constantly. But as her debut in the ton comes closer, she decides to finally let go of her silly childhood dream and accept someone else’s wish to court her, someone who appreciates a quiet, book-filled life as she does. She wants marriage and, despite all the hints she throws his way, Rake only wants a mistress…she thinks.
Lord Richard Darling has known Penny since she was a child and not once thought of her as anything but his niece’s best friend and a very convenient scone-fetcher. That is, not until he happens upon her swimming in the lake at Chester Park dressed only in her thin chemise. A most eligible bachelor with a libertine reputation, he suddenly finds the girl he’s always appreciated has turned into a woman he could love forever. So why won’t she accept his proposal?
Publisher and Release Date: The Wild Rose Press, January 2014
Time and setting: Regency England
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 1
Reviewer rating: 3.5 stars
Review by Vikki
I have mixed feelings regarding this book. It captured my attention in the first chapter,and I immediately fell in love with Lord Richard Darling. He’s the typical bad-boy-out-to-live-life-to-its-fullest, fun-loving and a great character. I always enjoy stories about seemingly irredeemable rakes. Lady Penelope DeVere on the other hand, is difficult to warm to and has extremely low self-esteem. Perhaps it may have helped me to understand her more if I had read the first book in the series.
Penny has loved Richard her entire life, but now that she is getting ready to have her first Season, she decides that her dream of a ‘Happily Ever After’ with him will never come true. A suitor approaches, asking to court her, and she agrees. Mr. Thomas Bedford is perfect for her. He shares her great love of books and makes her feel content. Of course, everyone around her calls him boring “Saint Thomas”. The Duchess of Berkeley gets Thomas to agree to let Penny experience her first Season before offering marriage, so off to London she goes.
There’s a darker side to this story. Penny’s father treats her badly, and it’s no wonder her self-esteem is so damaged, as he is constantly comparing her to her beautiful sister, Charmaine. When Lord Nester gets in trouble with gambling debts, he gives Penny to Lord Bolton, instead of Charmaine. Penny wakes up in a strange, yet opulent bedchamber and is desperate to escape from the evil Lord. This is a very well-written scene and kept me on the edge of my seat. Fortunately, Penny does escape and runs to the Darling family, since she knows her father would only return her to Lord Bolton.
The story jumps ahead five months with Penny suffering from a bout of deep melancholy, refusing to see Thomas, and living with the Darling family. The duchess discovers some disturbing information involving Richard’s behavior toward Penny, so convinces Penny to see Thomas and move on with her life. At this point, it appears that Penny will never have her dream come true. Will she marry Thomas, or will Richard step in and convince Penny he loves her and meant to marry her all along?
As I mentioned earlier, I never warmed up to Penny. Nevertheless, this book took me on a rollercoaster ride of emotions. At times, I wanted to throw it against the wall because of Penny’s dim-wittedness when it came to her misunderstanding of Richard’s intentions toward her. She constantly let her low feelings of self-worth interfere, keeping her from opening herself up to him.
As a result, I had a difficult time rating this book, but ultimately, I ended up giving it 3.5 stars, because it did take me on an emotional journey.