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Manda Collins has once again created a story that captures the beauty of being different in a society where conventional is the only accepted way of being. She really captures the essence of her characters in their witty retorts and brave deeds, and that's what makes the story feel so alive. While her books are typically a hit or miss for me, this one was definitely a hit.
Miss Sophia Hastings refuses to be ordinary. Creating thought-provoking yet scandalous paintings is her life's mission, and she is very good at it. However, her passion has led to her being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and she finds herself at the bottom of a cliff listening to two men plotting to kill a third in the forest above. And she is not alone - Lord Benedick Lisle, the local vicar, has rushed to help her. Each have vastly different reactions to the scenario. Sophia wants to rush headlong into danger in order to help the unsuspecting victim, while Ben is more cautious and wishes to protect Sophia from potential harm. Soon there is a battle of wills between the two, and it's only a matter of time before the battle turns into one of both the mind and the heart.
It was definitely interesting to have a vicar as the hero, let me say! My brain was having quite a hard time finding its groove in this romance, as half of it expected a clean romance (given the religious nature of the hero's occupation) while the other half knew there was bound to be some fun times in the coming pages (given the author). The odd feeling never fully went away, especially when Benedick mentioned God several times, and I was thrown for a loop again. In most historical romances I have read, it's either no religion or a lot of religion, with no in between. Manda Collins did a good job creating a hero that was able to balance both religion and lust in a way that wasn't awkward, which I think says a lot. Sophia was a fun, spunky heroine that was seemingly Ben's polar opposite, and there were a few times where I just wanted to shake her and tell her to listen to his wisdom. She was a bit too impetuous and came close to having some TSTL moments. In the end, though, I am happy to say that she lives and matures, and it was a lovely progression.
This was a very enjoyable read and one that prompts me to anticipate the next book, sure to feature Sophia's sister, Gemma. It's bound to be a very interesting and entertaining story!
**I received a free copy via NetGalley and this is my honest review.**