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What a sweet, utterly romantic book by the consistently wonderful Janna MacGregor! I cannot tell you how enchanted I was by her first book (which was treated poorly by much of the reviewer community, much to my chagrin - I have never disagreed with the overall star rating for a book as much as I did that one), so I was delighted to read her next book in the series. Janna has a way of creating characters that capture your heart and make you believe in love again. I sat down with this book, read as much as possible before I had to actually sleep that night, and then quickly devoured the rest in the morning.
Nicholas St. Mauer, the Earl of Somerton, is a businessman first and foremost, and most of his life has been devoted to amassing enough wealth to surpass his father, who abandoned him as a youth. While money is always on his mind, it takes a backseat when he meets the charming Lady Emma Cavensham, whose brother-in-law has been his dearest friend for years. Headstrong and searching for independence, Emma is consistently thwarted in her desire for such by Nick, who is determined to keep her safe. When she travels to Portsmouth in secret, hoping to take the next step in bringing justice to her murdered friend, Nick follows her and ultimately saves her life. However, she is away for days and is thus compromised, leading to her family's demand that she marry. While Nick and Emma feel desire for each other, both are hesitant to call it love. As their marriage unfolds, Nick's past will collide with the present, and he will have to choose between his desire for revenge and his desire for love.
I absolutely adored both Emma and Nick! While I found Emma to be overly willful at times, making life for her family and friends extremely difficult, she was consistent in her desire for the better treatment of women. Nick won me over quickly with his eagerness to make her happy and his defense of her beliefs, which at the time, were controversial. Their obvious affection for each other warmed my heart and made the story so appealing in every way. That being said, there was a moment towards the end where Nick's appeal waned significantly. His desire for revenge over a childhood bully outweighed his love for Emma and her desire to protect a woman from marrying a known abuser and murderer. What saved the book for me were two things: (1) Emma stood by her convictions and told Nick that he was wrong. Repeatedly. (2) Nick finally pulled his head out of his rear end and did the right thing. Eventually.
This book remains a beautiful story, in spite of that momentary lapse, and I greatly enjoyed it as a whole. Janna MacGregor remains one of my favorite new authors this year, and I can't wait to see what she writes next. It's sure to be an enchanting read!
**I received a free copy via NetGalley and this is my honest review.**