There are worse things than hiding in a derelict old cottage, battling field mice, and sucking on one’s last lemon. Or so Lady Annabella Price firmly believes. For example, spending the Season in London with her stepbrother and husband-hunting, as her mother has ordered. Instead, Annabella sends her maid in her place and exults in her questionable triumph… until the insufferable Lord Seabrook shows up.
It seems like a simple favor for a friend, something to distract him from his need to find an acceptable wife. Jonathan Durham, Fourth Earl of Seabrook, travels to Haselmere to find the duke’s stepsister and make certain no harm has befallen her. But Annabella is no damsel in distress. She’s a willful, spirited lady, and the impetuous beauty intrigues Seabrook. When they’re caught in a compromising position and forced into a hurried marriage, Seabrook sees it as the perfect answer to both their problems. But how can he convince his unwilling bride to give their marriage a chance when she’s determined to have it dissolved?
Review: This may be the best historical romance I have read in a long while. In fact, I kind of have a little bit of a book hangover.
Annabella lived in the shadows of her parents very unhappy marriage. She vividly recalls conversations with her father as a child when he sadly explained to her why he traveled so often. Now, with her mother making threats to marry her off to the local minister if she does not travel to London for the Season, Annabella concocts a scheme to avoid going to London. Things might have worked out but a Lord Seabrook who was very good friends with Annabella’s stepbrother agreed to check in on Annabella’s well being. The carriage house where Annabella was hiding out is where Seabrook is housed during his stay. A hilarious case of mistaken identity occurs when Seabrook assumes Annabella is a servant.
One thing upon another compounds an already confusing situation when Annabella discovers a stash of money in the old carriage house bearing the Duke’s insignia. After indulging in a fine French wine, Annnabella and Seabrook wind up spending the night together, but not in the way you think. The thing is Annabella doesn’t remember what happened that night and Seabrook allows her to think the worse. A very hasty marriage is arranged which Seabrook intends to use to his advantage in order to obtain his inheritance. But, is that the only reason he rushed Annabella into marriage?
The hilarity continues as Annabella is taken to Blackmoor and introduced to Seabrook’s grandmother. I laughed out loud at the dowager who took Annabella under her wing and taught her some valuable lessons about life and men.
Annabella keeps Seabrook on edge from start to finish. She is not conventional or biddable. She’s feisty, independent, smart and has a mouth on her. Life with Annabella would never be boring. But, Seabrook continues to keep secrets from Annabella and they can’t have a conversation without Annabella accusing him of being in league with the devil. Seabrook never knew what hit him. He has no idea how to make things right for Annabella now that he has trapped her into marriage. Would it be better if he sent her to London and let her stepbrother help them annul the marriage… or could they somehow, someway manage to make this marriage successful after all?
This is a sweet romance full of charm and humor, zany mix ups and wonderfully drawn characters. I literally felt my mood lighten while reading this book and I’m still chuckling about some of the parts in the book when Annabella got a good zing on Seabrook or the dowager was in rare form. This is a delightful read, mostly on the sweet side as far as the steam level is concerned, but too much sexual content wouldn’t have fit all that well with this one. I highly recommend this one to all lovers of romance.