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I love stories like this, where one person attempts to change another person to help them fit it! Obviously this story is more complicated than that, but it's along the same lines as so many other similar tales. My favorite being The Proposition by Judith Ivory (if you like this book, go try that one on for size). What made this particular story so much fun was that the reader knows the whole time that the "London dockworker" is actually the son of a duke! Exciting times for our heroine, as she doesn't find out until much later.
Lady Henrietta Parker has agreed to an outrageous bet with her stepsister - transform an ordinary London dockworker into a society gentleman suitable for the "marriage mart", or else she will lose her horse given to her by her father. Angry at her stepsister, she immediately agrees, and her stepsister chooses a dockworker who is as coarse in speech as he is handsome in appearance. Try as she might, Retta is going to have a hard time withstanding this man's ample charm. What she doesn't know is that this "ordinary dockworker" is actually Lord Jacob Bodwyn, the third son of the Duke of Holbrook, and he's on a mission for the Foreign Office. He doesn't need the distraction of a pretty, humble society miss, but that's just what he gets when he agrees to aid her in her bet. Now both must hide how they feel if they are to succeed - Retta in her bet and Jake in his mission.
I loved the chemistry between Retta and Jake, even though it was frustrating at times that he kept such a huge secret from her. It's understandable, but it also meant that their romance was slow in coming. But once they got there, oh, how romantic! They fit together perfectly, and I was happy that they each found love with each other in spite of all the obstacles in their path. I particularly like the quote below, towards the end of the book, when they are speaking hypothetically of a couple (who is really them):
"But it is not merely a matter of loving another person, is it? The world always has a way of intruding."
He leaned closer to her and placed an arm around her shoulders, aware of that woody-floral scent she always wore. "Devil take the world," he said in that same soft tone and kissed her very, very thoroughly.
Fans of My Fair Lady will love this book! I am eager to read the next in the series.
**I received a free copy via NetGalley and this is my honest review.**