I passed on the first book in this series, mainly because I have learned to spot a plot that might not be my cup of tea. So when I saw this book, I wondered if I'd be able to fully appreciate it, since I was jumping in to a new series midway through. Thankfully, Elizabeth Hoyt is a master at storytelling, and I was able to fall in love with the story and characters regardless of my familiarity with them. One thing I love about her books is that she always intertwines a fairy tale, where part is told at the start of each new chapter, and I am always tickled at how appropriate it is for the actual story told in the book. When a Rogue Meets His Match has a Beauty and the Beast quality to it, as does the small fairytale, and as that is my "catnip" trope, I was in heaven while reading.
Messalina Greycourt is not happy to have been virtually kidnapped by her uncle's employee, Gideon Hawthorne, and her displeasure only grows when she learns that he is soon to be her husband. Handsome as sin and just as wicked, he is the last man she would consider as husband material. However, with her sister's future threatened, she is given little choice. Soon they are conducting a farce of a marriage, but Messalina does manage to extract some promises from Gideon: her sister can live with her, she will be allowed to have a dog, and consummation will not happen for at least one month, and once it does, she will retain 1/10th of her dowry. In exchange, she will act as his doting wife in public and help him move about in society. Gideon has admired Messalina from afar for the last ten years, ever since he entered her uncle's employ. It seems a simple choice to accept her uncle's offer to wed her. However, the price for such a reward may cause him to lose her forever.
Messalina was a really fun heroine, full of sass and confidence, even in the face of terrible circumstances. She knew Gideon was a dangerous man, but she also recognized that there was something underneath his hard exterior that was worth exploring. Gideon showed signs of gentling pretty early on in the book, when he sought to make Messalina feel more at ease, even as her uncle backed her into a corner. I warmed up to him quickly as the book progressed, and I could see Messalina doing so as well, each time she peeled back another layer in his personality. He had a harsh beginning, so when they moved into his home and saw how he was living, it was really enlightening. I loved how the reader was able to see his generosity and soft-heartedness, while at the same time we could see how life had changed him. He could have become a monster quite easily, but instead he really tried to do good for others. The price for Messalina's hand was difficult to wrap my head around, and it surprised me how Gideon was able to separate the impending doom from his evolving relationship with his wife. It was an interesting story, to say the very least, and I finished it in a day quite easily.
I will definitely be continuing to read more in this series! Elizabeth Hoyt never fails to delight.
**I received a free copy via NetGalley and this is my honest review.**