Pros: Characters play off of each other well, romance feels natural
Rating: 5 out of 5
Review book courtesy of Penguin Group
The Duke of Rothay and the Earl of Mandeville have made a bet. Which one of them is the better lover? The widow Lady Caroline Wynn, cool and unapproachable, wishes to judge under condition of anonymity to prove her dead husband’s accusations untrue. While being entertained by the Duke of Rothay, she begins to learn what love can be like. But while the two of them are getting to know each other, the Earl of Mandeville has to confront the fact that his heart is already attached, to a woman engaged to someone else. Can the Earl press his suit? And could the Duke be open to anything more than a fling with the beautiful Lady Wynn?
One of the first things that struck me about this book was the way Wildes is able to describe. Characters’ appearances are lovingly detailed, and gave me the feeling that I could see each of these people, not only what they looked like and wore, but who they are as people. Feelings and emotions are also well-developed and explored, allowing the reader to form deep connections with each character. We can feel Lady Wynn’s fear and nervousness, and understand well why the Duke of Rothay is unwilling to examine his feelings too closely.
The characters themselves stand out as well, because some of their problems are ones that don’t generally come up in stereotypical romance novels. This made the book fresh and interesting. Lady Wynn is dealing with emotional scars left over from her first marriage, while the Duke of Rothay has a manipulative lover to put behind him. The Earl of Mandeville and Annabel Reid have a misunderstanding between them that must be resolved before her marriage to someone else. Wildes is skillfully able to draw the tension throughout the book, so that even when one situation seems to be resolved, there is another demanding the reader’s attention.
The romance in this book is achingly sweet. Watching Lady Wynn learn to trust her lover as he holds back so as not to frighten her, is a very moving part of the book and makes their mutual fulfillment, when it does happen, even more special because we know just how much trust it took both parties. Watching a rake trying to convince the love of his life that he is sincere makes the reader long to take his love by the shoulders and shake her until she sees reason! But their relationship is all the more wonderful because of the forgiveness that is necessary for trust to begin again.
This is a deliciously fun read. The characters are lovable and engaging, while the plot is unique. Wildes’ description renders it all in exquisite detail, and the reader is captivated by her storytelling skill. If you are looking for a book with sweet romance and moving characters, this is it. A wonderful ride, the reader will find themselves captivated by the novelty of this tale.