This review has run previously, prior to the book being re-titled (it had been called The Fall of Lady Grace) and publication was delayed until January 2015.
A plan born of desperation…
Once the toast of society, Grace Cabot and her sisters now await the shame of losing high status and fine luxuries upon the death of the Earl of Beckington. The dire circumstances are inevitable unless, of course, Grace’s wicked plot to seduce a wealthy viscount into marriage goes off without a single hitch. But once a stolen embrace with the wrong man leads her to be discovered in the arms of Jeffrey, the Earl of Merryton, her plan takes a most unexpected—and scorching—twist.
… and altered by passion.
Governed by routine and ruled by duty, Jeffrey had no desire for a wife before he succumbed to Grace’s temptation. Though his golden-haired, in-name-only bride is the definition of disorder, he can’t resist wanting her in every way. But once her secrets meet his, society might consider their lives to be ruined beyond repair…while Jeffrey might just see it as a new beginning.
Publisher and Release Date: Harlequin HQN, January 2015
Time and Setting: England, 1812
Genre: Regency Romance
Heat Level: 2.5
Reviewer Rating: 5 stars
Review by Maggi
Kudos to Ms. London for tackling a thorny issue like mental illness. In this beauty and the beast tale, the hero, Jeffrey, the Earl of Merryton suffers a disorder, the symptoms of which are at times quite distasteful. Heroine, Grace, one of the Cabot sisters, commits a rather disgraceful act herself, and although her reasons perhaps justify her behavior, I had a hard time feeling any sympathy for her in the beginning. But such is Ms London’s masterful writing; her characters develop during the story, and I began to care about this unlikely pair. Jeffrey sticks rigidly to order in all things, and when Grace comes into his life she turns it topsy-turvy. She is not the woman he wanted for a wife. Grace proves to be a practical, unaffected heroine who is quite brave and determined. She faces up to Jeffrey, who at times is rather daunting. She’s not a snob, she doesn’t rigidly follow the conventions, but takes people for who they are. And she cares about animals.
The passionate love scenes fairly sizzle and are beautifully handled. Jeffrey is a consummate lover, but Grace, who comes from a warm, loving family, wants more, she wants to delve beneath his cold exterior to understand and help him, and she begins to fight for his heart. Jeffrey, while at first an enigma, begins to reveal more of himself to the reader. He is a lonely, troubled man with a sad past. I felt compassion for his plight.
This is a difficult storyline to pull off, but Ms London does it, and I couldn’t put down despite some early reservations.
There’s plenty of snappy dialogue to delight readers:
Merryton glanced at a small mantel clock. “Come now.” He spoke as if she were a servant.
“I’m coming as quickly as I can force myself.”
“It would behoove you to force yourself a bit faster.”
Readers will either love this story or hate it, I suspect. It is certainly one of my favourite Julia London novels.