It was love at first sight for thirteen-year-old Mercy Ackerly. The second she encountered the traveling Duke of Blackthorne, she fell in love…with his horses. And since Sebastian Tremaine was also perfect, they would someday be man and wife.
From the start, Sebastian has felt oddly protective of Mercy. Delightfully straightforward, the girl is everything honest and sweet, which is why he approved when his best friend married into the family—and then so did his other friends. But now Mercy’s all grown up. Now she’s facing the ton’s matchmaking mamas and their deceitful daughters, is joining a world he despises, be it the ballrooms and routs or the opulent crush. He would shield her if he could, would do anything but entangle his heart.
Sebastian will fight the inevitable for as long as he can. And then he’ll fight for it. Some matches are schemed for, some are arranged, and some have just been coming for a long, long time.
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Publisher and Release Date: Buroughs Publishing Group, June 2014 (originally published March 2012)
Time and setting: Regency England
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 1
Reviewer rating: 4 Stars
Review by Vikki
I enjoyed this sweet romance immensely from the first page to the last. The author weaves a story that gives the reader a chance to see the characters grow into adulthood. One might think this would slow the pacing, but that is not the case at all. Personally, I found it fascinating and enjoyed getting to know the hero and heroine as children. It’s a different approach and certainly helps with character development.
The hero and heroine meet in 1813 when Mercy is a thirteen-year-old tomboy and Sebastian a young man of three and twenty who has just found out he is the new Duke of Blackthorne. It’s love at first sight for Mercy, and when Sebastian almost runs her down with his fine horses, she makes up her mind that she will become his duchess.
Through the next five years, Sebastian watches Mercy grow from a cute little urchin into a ravishingly beautiful young lady ready to have her coming out, and he wonders where the time has gone.
Mercy has one goal for her first season, to marry Sebastian, but she has to get him to notice her first. A chance encounter in the park does not go well, and then her childhood nemesis, Amy, shows up and tells everyone of Mercy’s continuing infatuation with the young duke, making her the laughingstock of the ton. Through her machinations, Amy and two other young ladies witness Mercy giving Sebastian an innocent kiss and telling him she loves him. They immediately spread the gossip throughout the ball.
To the astonishment of everyone, Mercy turns the tables on the three witches and soon is the darling of the ton. She becomes elusive and beguiling to Sebastian, and he sets out to win her heart – but has he waited too long? Can he convince his sweet Mercy he loves her?
This is a wonderful story of young love overcoming a lot of obstacles along the road to their HEA. The story is entertaining, and held me in its thrall throughout the entire book. Mercy is an enchanting and endearing character with great depth. Sebastian is my favorite kind of hero, lots of angst and brooding going on with him.
I loved the interaction between the six sisters and how protective they are of Mercy; this is beautifully written. In fact, I enjoyed her sisters so much I will now read their stories as well. I also enjoyed the relationship between Sebastian and his friends, several of whom have fallen in love with and married Mercy’s sisters. The plot has a bit of everything, romance, laughter and mystery all rolled into one delightful tale. It even has a villain thrown in.
My major criticism, and the reason I’ve not rated the book more highly is that it lacks a strong sense of the period. Some of Ms. Clark’s terminology is too modern and jolted me out of the story, although not enough to take away from my reading pleasure. If you’re looking for a light-hearted yet emotionally charged read this is a story you will not want to miss.
It was now or never. He wouldn’t come to another ball, of that she was sure. And he definitely wasn’t going to pay a call on her at her sister’s townhouse. If he’d ever intended that, he’d have done so by now.
Before she could talk herself out of it, she gathered her courage, turned back around and blurted, “I love you.”
Sebastian’s eyes widened. Mercy took a step toward him and continued speaking before her temporary bravado could desert her. “I know you probably didn’t know that, which is why you haven’t come to see me since I’ve been in London, but I’m grown up now so there’s no need for me to wait any longer to tell you.” She laced her fingers together and brought them to her chest as if they could somehow calm the furious beating of her heart. “I’ve loved you since I opened my eyes in your coach when I was thirteen years old, and that love has never gone away. I know I’m young, but you really aren’t all that much older than me and…”
Mercy realized she was rambling and made herself stop talking. She bit her lip and chanced another glimpse of him up through her lashes. His golden eyes were soft, his expression serious. He gazed down at her, but she couldn’t tell at all what he was thinking.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Deneane Elise Clark is an historical romance novelist. Her published work includes the first three books in THE VIRTUE SERIES, a lighthearted romp through the ballrooms and bedrooms of Regency London. The books tell the love stories of the motherless Ackerly sisters, beginning with GRACE, continuing with the stories of FAITH and CHARITY, and will conclude with MERCY. Deneane’s books have been published in the United States, Canada, the UK and Australia, and have been translated into several languages, including Dutch, Norwegian and Turkish.
Deneane grew up in New Orleans and misses it dreadfully. Currently, she resides near Charlotte,NC, but has also lived in the Northeast, the Midwest, and on the West Coast. She prefers mountains to beaches, cities to suburbs, and suburbs to rural areas, and would be perfectly content if she could just manage to convince the world to flip flop the working day so people slept during the day and worked at night.
A single mom, Deneane raised her now grown up children while working full time and writing at night. Her daughter enjoys traveling, so moves in and out as the mood strikes, and her son recently enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. She enjoys sparkling beverages, music, plays trivia with an amazing bunch of friends, and travels to London any time she gets the chance.
Deneane loves interaction with her readers. You can friend and/or follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Tumblr and Instagram. If you’re not a fan of social media, she also writes a blog. And, although it sometimes takes a while, she makes every attempt to respond to all emails, messages and comments.