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This book was a pleasant surprise! I really enjoy Kristi Ann Hunter's writing, so that wasn't it. What surprised me was that I actually really liked the heroine. I dove into reading it solely because of the author, but instead of finding a pampered, pretty heroine who flaunted her good looks everywhere she went, I found a reserved, humble young woman whose motives were entirely unselfish. Much like the world does upon seeing a pretty face, I judged too hastily, and I am so glad that my judgment was wrong.
Isabella Breckenridge is desperate - not for a husband, as most marriage-minded misses are, but for a way to save her family from destitution. Coming to London was supposed to be simple. She would help her uncle pass a bill, using her pretty face to garner attention, and once that was done, he would help her family get back on their feet. She quickly finds, however, that it's not that simple at all, and her heart becomes entangled irrevocably with her cousin's potential suitor, the Duke of Riverton. Griffin knows he must marry soon, but he wants to marry for love. Thinking he's finally found it in Miss Frederica St. Claire, he is confused when his heart pounds not for her but for her beautiful cousin. Fighting his feelings much like the classic Mr. Darcy, Griffin cannot help his attraction to Isabella. Once he discovers her secret, though, will his love be enough to save her?
Both Griffin and Isabella were delightful characters, each with their little quirks that made them flawed and real to the reader. Griffin is stoic on the outside, acting as if nothing touches him, but inside he wants what the rest of his family has - love, with a woman who loves him in return. It was sweet to read about him fighting his affection for Isabella, because it was a struggle he was clearly not going to win. There were several references to Pride and Prejudice in this book, particularly when he gets down to proposing. His family is a riot throughout the whole book, making me love them even more after reading their books previously. I will say, though, that there is one part of the story I desperately wanted more from - Frederica and her beau, Arthur! Whenever Frederica would go off with Arthur, I wanted to follow them and see what happened. It was really hard to focus back in Isabella and Griffin, when I knew there was some sort of drama happening in the next room, so to speak.
Highly enjoyable book! I would recommend this, and any of Kristi Ann Hunter's other books, to historical romance readers.
**I received a free copy via NetGalley and this is my honest review.**