Loved this story, with its fairy tale tone and its realistically flawed characters, and I think I am officially a fan of Olive Drake's books. Normally it takes a few books, but this one got me from the beginning. To have a member of aristocracy have a heart from the start of the book is rare. Usually there is a redemption arc, and you've got to read as the hero goes from being an insensitive lout to being a generous, kind hearted soul. How realistic does that seem to you? I much preferred this hero, who looked beyond a person's status to who they are within. With the exception of his butler, Chumley - I have no idea why he put up with that rude man.
Natalie Fanshawe was tasked with getting her best friend's son to his grandfather in England, right before she perished from a brutal attack at their settlement in America. Unknowing if he would receive them, she sailed anyway, and then made it far until getting caught in the rain at an inn, with her transportation departed without her. Hadrian Ames, the eighth Duke of Clayton, had no intention of getting involved with a bedraggled woman and her young charge. He just wanted to visit his uncle, marry his cousin, and get on with his life. That all changed, however, when he offers Natalie passage to his uncle's home, which just so happens to be her destination as well. His uncle is her charge's grandfather, and he is not going to be happy to see her. Years ago, he wrote off his daughter for leaving for America with her commoner husband, and he has no desire to take in her son...if that's even who he is.
I loved Natalie and Hadrian, both for their strength of character and their courageous actions throughout the book! There was so much riding against them, particularly by a society who looked down upon their relationship. Natalie followed through on her actions and never backed down, which you don't see every day. Sure, a heroine might vent and complain, but in the end, she gives in and forgives everyone of every wrong done to her. That's fairly typical, even in today's strong heroine movement. But Olivia Drake wrote a heroine who stood up for what she believed in and made the hero grovel. Hadrian needed to realize the error of his ways, and Natalie made him see that. It was tough love, but it made him grow into a better man. He also didn't the typical duke and commoner thing and try to make her his mistress. His love rang true throughout the story, and he didn't care who knew about it. They had their bumps in the road, but ultimately, love won.
Olivia Drake has captured my attention with this latest book! I am excited to see what she writes next.
**I received a free copy via NetGalley and this is my honest review.**