As with every Christi Caldwell book I read, I ended my reading experience feeling very satisfied and anxious for the next book in the series. Christi has a magic about her writing that always leaves me breathless, creating characters who are unique and relatable, a setting that makes you feel you are there alongside them, and a plot that shows you the way romance should be. The amazing thing is - she writes multiple books a year and yet, I never feel that an idea is recycled or a character reused. Each book is unique, each character is crafted with care, and I am always shocked when I get to the end and realize there is no more book. I always want more from this author, even when she ties everything up in a neat bow for us to feel closure.
Bastard born and living under a false identity, Miss Edwina Dalrymple is working hard to create a life for herself as an etiquette instructor for young ladies. She has been unable to break into the realm of aristocracy, however...until now. When she is summoned by the the Duke and Duchess of Bentley, she assume she is to help bring a female relation up to snuff for the coming season. She assumes wrong, because the relation is the duke's illegitimate child...and is a son. Tasked with retrieving him from the coalfields where he lives and bringing him back to London, Edwina is determined to succeed. Her livelihood depends on it. However, it requires the cooperation of a man who is also determined to stay far away from his errant father. Rafe Audley watched his mother die 18 years ago birthing the last of the duke's illegitimate children, with no sign of the duke's care or consideration for her welfare or that of her children. He has no intention of going to London. When two stubborn minds collide, it's winner takes all, and now they must both decide what winning really means.
I adored Edwina from the start - a determined, successful young woman making her way in a world that would normally shun her if they learned of her birth and circumstances, she was inspiring. I loved her good humor, the way she handled difficult situations, and her consistent dedication to getting the job done. It was hard watching her get to know Rafe, because he looked down on her, thinking she was just another highborn lady who has taken to service. He didn't know they had illegitimacy in common, and the reader could see that Edwina really wanted to have that connection with Rafe be known to him, if it weren't for her fear of revealing her secret. Rafe was a gruff, determined man who had no time for frivolity or manners. He was a working class coal miner who had his siblings to support, and the last thing he wanted to do was give his father the satisfaction of any sort of relationship. As the book progressed, I found it interesting how his gruff exterior changed to let a little vulnerability in - not too much but just enough to let Edwina get a foothold into his heart. He needed someone to show him what could be, and she provided an excellent perspective for him to view London from. Their relationship was very much a slow burn, and with a perceived class difference, I was at the edge of my seat waiting to see how things would be resolved. You will love it, as I did.
I am already eager to see where things go from here, as I always am after reading a novel by Christi Caldwell. If you haven't read her yet, let this be your sign to begin your journey with her writing now.
**I received a free copy via NetGalley and this is my honest review.**