Genre: historical romance.
Cover: very beautiful, with a stepcover that pictures our hero.
SHE BREAKS ALL THE RULES...
Sophia White knows she will never marry into polite society. The illegitimate daughter of a nobleman, she works at the Tantalus Club, a discreet establishment for gentlemen - and her only suitor is a pastor who wants to save her soul. So when Sophia is invited to spend the holidays at the estate of Adam Baswich, the devilishly handsome Duke of Greaves, she is delighted - and determined to enjoy her last nights of freedom before surrendering her hand...
TO CAPTURE A NOBLEMAN'S HEART
Inviting Sophia for Christmas is a daring courtesy on Adam's part, but he soon finds the pleasure is all his. Sophia is beautiful, courageous, and stubbornly self-sufficient despite her scandalous circumstances - and not at all the kind of woman he could possibly marry. Adam knows he must find a wife by his thirtieth birthday or he will lose his fortune. But can he defy convention - and convince Sophia - to risk it all in the name of true love?
Sophia White was happy working at the Tantalus Club. Until her father (who never acknowledged her), the Duke of Hennesy, threatened to have the club close down, and all her friends thrown into the gutter if she did not do as he wanted. She was causing a scandal for him and her legal siblings, and he wanted her out of the picture, out of Society. She was to marry a vicar down in Cornwall on January 15th, or else. Sophia new her collegues needed the safety of the club like she herself did, and so she gives in to his demands. Before she embarks on her new life of misery, she wanted a few weeks of happy memories.
The Duke of Greaves has invited her over for his Christmas house party, and her best friend Camille and her new husband will be there as well. Sophia longs to spend some time with her friend, which will probably be the last time they will see each other.
Unfortunately, Sophia almost drowns when the bridge across the river falls apart when the mail coach drives over it. She loses everything she has with her, but is saved by the Duke himself, who was in the neighbourhood riding with some friends. Soaked and frozen, she is taken to the Castle. She is the only guest who has made it yet, except for his malicious sister. The other guests won’t be able to cross the river, unless they want to drive an additional 4 days to the next bridge and back, and that in the unpredictable Cornwall winter weather. The duke has provided lodgings in the village across the river until the bridge can be repaired.
Adam Baswich, the Duke of Greaves, is very much put out by the collapse of his bridge. He has to be married before February 1 the next year, or else he will lose most of his inheritage to his sisters infant son. Of course he has known about his father’s will for years now, but he has put the inevitable of for as long as possible. And for this Christmas house party he has invited his friends and a host of eligible young female who would all love to become the next duchess. He invited Sophia as a gesture for his friend Blackwood and his wife, but he did like the chit when he played at her table at the Tantalus club.
Sophia adamantly refuses to become his mistress, or accept new clothes from him. And so Adam sets out to deceive her, having new clothes made, and his servants acting like they lend them to Sophia. Or that the clothes belonged to the late duchess, or were just left behind by visitors. The village that belongs to Adam has a very good seamstress, and Sophia never notices that they fit her perfectly, or are the very latest in fashion.
She also borrows clothes from one of the footmen, and she really likes walking around in his uniform, paired with some boots from a stable lad, and an old greatcoat from the duke himself when he was just a boy. Driving Adam crazy in the meantime, as those clothes are very revealing of her figure.
They are both strong characters, bound for a dismal future, and they start an affair. They have fun together, and become friends. But their happiness is fast disturbed when the bridge is repaired and the rest of the guests arrive. Most of them look down their nose at Sophia, or totally ignore her, as she is so far beneath them, and a scandalous female. The men though, want her for themselves, and she has to decline some propositions.
Sophia keeps making happy memories for herself, though it is not easy when she has fallen in love with Adam, and he needs to pick himself a bride from among the guests. The servants are all very fond of Sophia, and try to do their best for her, helping her, protecting her, and taking revenge for her. But the day comes closer when Sophia will have to leave for Cornwall, and her vicar. Adam has asked Oliver Haybury, the husband of Sophia’s employer, to investigate the vicar though. Will she find any kindness there after all, or will her life be only misery.
I very much enjoyed this book. Sophia is an unique heroine, she tries to see the best in things and people, she is unconventional, and has made a life for herself she enjoys. But now she has to sacrifice herself, for the happiness and wellbeing of her friends, and she is determined to see it through. She will have to marry the vicar, not even fleeing to America would satisfy her father. I really loved her, and her attitude. She goes for what she wants with open eyes, and enjoys the smallest things. I admire her.
Adam is a bit hard headed though. A bit of a spoiled duke, whom no-one ever gainsays, and now he has to marry or loose most of his inheritance. He hates giving in to his father, and is very afraid that he is just as bad a blackguard as his late father was. His sister sure keeps reminding him of those facts. He is very much surprised by Sophia, and that she won’t accept gifts from him at all. No clothes, a horse or jewellery. But she seems to really like him for who he is behind his façade.
I enjoyed their wagers, their bantering, and of course their attraction. They don’t really hesitate to act upon that, as they have little time left of freedom.
The ending, well, that was brilliantly done. At first Adam spoils everything, and he has a hard time coming up with a solution to both their problems. But he does make up for it, but not after she gives him a hard time. I must admit, I was sad and happy that the book had ended.
I am looking forward to the next book, and so far, I have no idea who the next heroine will be, but I do hope for some.
© 2012 Reviews by Aurian