Genre: historical romance
Cover: nice, but our hero is blond, and this is not a scene from the book.
BESTSELLING AUTHOR KAREN HAWKINS ONCE MORE SETS SCOTTISH HEARTS AFIRE WITH A SCINTILLATING NEW SERIES FEATURING THE UNCONVENTIONAL BALFOUR FAMILY.
Urged by her favorite nephew, the intimidating Duchess of Roxburghe agrees to transform a thorny Scottish rose into a lovely bloom. But even she isn't prepared for fiery Rose Balfour.
At seventeen, Rose fell wildly in love with Lord Alton Sinclair, known as Lord Sin for his wicked ways. Stung by his indifference, the starry-eyed girl tried to win an illicit kiss, but then panicked and pushed the notorious rakehell into a fountain. Leaving Lord Sin floating among the lily pads to the mocking laughter of his peers, Rose escaped back to the obscurity of the Scottish countryside.
Six years later, Sin convinces his aunt, the Duchess of Roxburghe, to invite Rose to her annual house party, where he plans to get revenge by making Rose the laughingstock of polite society. To his astonishment, he finds she has become an alluring woman who threatens to turn the tables on his nefarious plans. Thus Sin and Rose begin an epic battle of the sexes that becomes more passionate at every turn. Eventually, one will have to surrender . . . but to vengeance? Or to love's deepest passion?
After spending 6 years searching for the girl who made him a laughingstock, Lord Sin found out that his own great-aunt is the girls godmother. And so he demanded that she be invited to the annual houseparty, to finally get his revenge on Rose Balfour. Little does he know that he is doing exactly what his matchmaking great-aunt wants him to do. She just knows there is more to his obsession, there is something different about this girl, otherwise he would have given up his anger a long time ago.
Ever since the disaster Rose has been back home in Scotland, taking care of her father, a famous horticulturist, and her two younger sisters. Her aunt has refused to support her sisters after the debacle, and Rose is very sorry for that. There are no eligible bachelors in the neighbourhood for her sisters to meet and her father is too engrossed in his studies to notice that. So when the invitation from her godmother comes, to spend three weeks at Floors Castle she is very happy to accept. Even though she won’t have the right clothes, she is determined to have some fun, away from all her responsibilities. She doesn’t count on meeting Lord Sinclair again, though he has never been far from her mind. But when he boldly states he is going to seduce her during her stay at his great-aunt’s house, she is just as determined to withstand his attempts. If only his kisses didn’t cloud her mind …
Sin finds out soon enough that she is straightforward, has a wicked sense of humor, and cannot refuse a challenge. And so he proposes challenges with very personal stakes. But Rose is not easy to catch, and she does her best to win the challenges. Of racing horses, archery, and even a lawn game Sin detests. This all to the interested eyes of the Duchess and her other house guests and staff. The duchess tries her best to push them together, convinced they are in love, but they are also very stubborn, and Sin has no idea he is in love at all. He just knows that Rose is different, and he is very attracted to her, she drives him insane. Especially when she keeps telling him no, and tries to avoid him, with the help of his great-aunt. She knows a man cannot withstand the challenge of a hunt …
One would expect a standard, boring story here, more of the same old, same old, but I am very happy to tell you, one would be wrong.
Rose is only 22 years young, and has precious little for herself. Taking care of her father and the household and her younger sisters. No spoiled debutante, nor a miss firmly on the shelf. She is also not incredibly beautiful, just pretty, until she smiles a real smile. Sin readily believes she is not an innocent miss, though she is. She likes horseback riding, and reading, and all kinds of games with her sisters.
Lord Sinclair has become quite ruthless after his disgrace in the fountain, the ton kept calling him Lord Fin for months. At age 17 his parents died in a carriage accident, and he had to come home from school, and take up the mantle of the Earl of Sinclair, including the care of his two younger brothers. And he was good at it. His brothers are happily married, and his grandmother and great-aunt are despairing if he will ever marry. No matter how hard they try to matchmake him, they never succeed. Until miss Rose Balfour aggravates him, making him even more of a rake than before. So there must be something special about the girl.
I loved the bits with the Duchess and her lady-in-waiting, Lady Charlotte, and of course her pack of little pugs. Meenie, Beenie, Weenie, Teenie, Feenie and Raymond. They sure livened up some of the pages with their antics. The Duchess just wants to see her great-nephew happily married, and of course, she loves matchmaking. The Duchess is in her 70’s and married to her fifth husband. She sure knows how to plot and scheme, and it was fun to read her diary entries. Her butler is another great secondary character, he has been with her since her first marriage at 17.
Rose is torn between what she wants, which is kissing Sin, and what she should do: behave herself, and make sure her sisters will be invited as well, so they have a chance at finding a good match. She is responsible after all. She is also afraid that Sin will break her heart, if she indulges in his arms, and he will leave her after the house party is over.
Sin has no intention at first to get to know her, and like her, he just wants revenge. But when he learns more about her past, and her personality, he is slowly falling for her, he just doesn’t know it, nor does he want to be married. He is very proud and stubborn, but he wants her in his arms, and more. So he does his best to seduce her, only to be thwarted time and again, getting injured a few times as well.
This book is a really fun read, but without blatant attempts at humor, I just enjoyed it very much. The characters, the story, the unsuspected events. Karen Hawkins has the perfect writing voice for me. Yes, the attempts at seduction, and the love scene are well written, and I liked reading them. The pull between Sin and Rose is really there, and you can’t help but feel with them.
I am looking forward to the next books in this series, with Rose’s sisters: Lily and Daisy.
© 2012 Reviews by Aurian