Around this time last year, I read the first book in this series, thinking I had rounded out my favorite books of the year list and wouldn't be adding another. I was mistaken then and I am mistaken again now. This book is absolutely a last minute addition to my Favorite Books of 2020 list, and I am excited to have it among so many other fantastic reads. Stacy Reid creates such wonderfully unique characters with engaging backstories and relatable personalities, so each of her books have been a joy to read. Never one to be predictable, Stacy always keeps me on the edge of my seat, and there is inevitably a point in the story that throws me completely. There are a lot of deep themes in this book that may be difficult for some readers, but believe me, it's worth it to reach the end and see the wonder of a true happily ever after.
Widely recognized as wallflowers, Lady Maryann Fitzwilliam and her friends have been mercilessly ridiculed by the more popular girls of their set. That's why Maryann contrives a juvenile yet effective plan to humiliate the biggest bully of all, and she finds an unlikely accomplice in Nicolas St. Ives, Marquess of Rothbury. Nicolas didn't start the night intending to be party to a prank - his main goal was to try to find evidence leading to a villain of the worst sort. But when Maryann mistakes him for her brother in the darkness, he plays along, and he finds himself intrigued by her bravery and guile. Maryann is intrigued by him as well, and once she learns his true identity, she concots a new scheme, for Nicolas is known as a rake and womanizer. Exactly what she needs to thwart an unwanted betrothal of her father's making, for who better to fake seduce her than the king of seduction himself?
I loved Maryann so much! I'm not sure when I have last enjoyed a heroine so much, and she really made this book magical. In fact, I would say at least one out of the five stars is dedicated entirely to her character. She paired wonderfully with Nicolas, who was broody with good reason and needed someone to pull him out of it. It was difficult watching them fall in love but also knowing the secret behind Nicolas' presence at the first ball. As they met in secret in her bedroom (oh la la!), I felt more affection for Nicolas' character and hoped Maryann could put some light back in his eyes. His history with a young woman from his past was tragic, and it made for a dark read as more clues leaked out into the story. Soon the reader didn't know who to trust, and while I knew fairly early on who I felt was the villain, it was still very sad to learn the truth in the end. But of course, within every romance with a sad backstory there is a silver lining, and Stacy gives us that to comfort us. She wrapped the story up with a nice bow at the end, and I left feeling contented yet also eager to continue reading her stories.
This year has been dreadful, but it's nice to end it on a happy note with this review! Let's hope 2021 picks up this positivity and runs with it.
**I received a free copy via NetGalley and this is my honest review.**