Review by Jenny Q
If you’ve read the previous books in Diana Quincy’s Rebellious Brides series, you’re familiar with Adam Fairfax, Duke of Sunderford, or Sinful Sunny, as he is known in the society columns. An unapologetic libertine who revels in hosting orgies in his palatial town house, he can’t understand what’s come over the friends who used to join him in his unbridled, indulgent lifestyle. It’s bad enough they had to go and get married, but the shocker is that they are actually faithful to their wives! Adam doesn’t realize it, but his sinful style is about to come crashing to a halt as well.
His buzzkill arrives in the form of adorable seven-year-old twin girls. Children of a deceased cousin, they were staying with Adam’s uncle until his uncle’s deteriorating health forced him to name Adam their new guardian. And as if they didn’t cramp his style enough, they come complete with a prim and proper nanny determined to keep his lifestyle from their impressionable eyes and ears. Easier said than done at first.
The girls are Isabel Finch’s sole purpose in life. A widowed orphan, she has no other family, and scoring the post as the girls’ governess has been a godsend for her. Even at an isolated country estate, Sinful Sunny’s reputation preceded him. Appalled at his behavior and disappointed in his desire to find a new guardian for the girls, she is also extremely dismayed to find herself attracted to the rake. But the more she comes to learn of his loveless upbringing and the walls he has encased around his heart, the more she understands what drives his choices. And the more the girls worm their way into his affections, and Adam curtails his nighttime romps, the more she finds herself wishing they were a real family.
Once the girls have settled in and Adam has resigned himself to his fate as their guardian, he finds it surprisingly easy to forego his amorous pursuits. Meaningless encounters no longer hold much appeal for him, but suddenly baiting the uptight Ms. Finch into losing her temper or letting her hair down does. When one kiss ignites a desire in him he can’t ignore, he makes it his mission to show Isabel how much fun they can have together. But Isabel will not settle for being a notch on his bedpost, and Adam is convinced he can never give her the fidelity she needs. After a series of misunderstandings comes between them, Sinful Sunny’s well-publicized past rears its ugly head and threatens to tear apart their family for good, and Isabel will have to disclose her own painful secrets to save them.
I have mixed feelings about this book. While I am normally wary of children in romance, often finding them to be annoying, I actually liked them here. They add genuine humor and really keep Adam on his toes. And I actually really liked Adam. I just wanted to weep for the little boy who was denied the affection he so desperately craved. And despite his reputation and seemingly careless attitude, he proves the nobility of his true character in deeds. However, for the first half of the book, he says some awfully disparaging things about Isabel’s appearance that are really harsh and had me wondering if my faith in him doing the right thing was misplaced. So I found myself being torn at times on what I thought of him. I had no such issues with Isabel, but her road to happily ever after included one of my pet peeves when it comes to romances featuring widows or widowers. It’s not necessary to discount the love one had for one’s deceased spouse, especially by saying, “I never felt this way about my first husband. Even though I truly mourned him, because I never felt this way with him, I must not have loved him as much as I thought I did.” I find that off-putting. While it may be more difficult to craft a romance after the death of a beloved spouse, it is certainly plausible and I think makes the second chance at love much sweeter and more realistic.
After loving Spy Fall, the first book in this series, I have eagerly devoured the others, but none of them have lived up to the first book, for various reasons. What I have noticed is that Ms. Quincy excels at creating compelling characters and writing sparkling dialogue and witty banter. But her endings are so rushed. That lessens their satisfaction, and the ending of this book is no different. And I really would have liked an epilogue. Adam was such a libertine, so convinced that he could never be faithful to one woman, that I would have liked to see with my own eyes that he was in fact capable of it after the first blush of love wore off. However, despite my quibbles, I still found it an enjoyable read with some laugh-out-loud moments and steamy sexual tension and a rather nicely done evolution of the hero’s character.
Publisher and Release Date: Loveswept, April 2018
Time and Setting: Regency England
Heat Level: 2
Genre: HIstorical Romance
Adam Fairfax, the Duke of Sunderford, happily enjoys a different woman (or two) every night—or he did, until his wards landed on his doorstep. Ever since Sunny took in the seven-year-old twin girls and their prim and proper governess, Isabel Finch, his love life has been a shambles. But, as time goes by, Sunny catches himself getting lost in Isabel’s haughty blue eyes, or following the curves beneath her unbecoming dress. An unexpected kiss ignites a passion that shocks him into realizing how thin the line between love and hate can be.
If Isabel’s hidden past were revealed, she could lose everything. Oddly enough, only when “Sinful Sunny” is near does she feel safe—or safe enough to speak up in defense of the girls. The duke’s decadent lifestyle is a disgrace, and clearly he considers Isabel a nuisance. Still, she can’t help admiring his sculpted cheekbones, strong-cut jaw, and tousled chestnut hair. When their lips meet, it’s almost as if he could kiss the secrets right out of her. Worse, she’s tempted to let him. . . .