Book 2 in The Rarest Blooms series
This book had a very alpha male that came close to being too alpha for my tastes. With books where the hero is pretty much forcing the heroine to bend to his will and forsake her independent streak, the author must walk a very, very fine line between creating an arrogant, over-bearing, soul-sucking ass or creating an arrogant ass that grows to love the heroine, and thus compromises occasionally. Throughout this book, Hawkeswell (our hero) teeters on the edge until, at the very last second, Hunter pulls him back from the Abyss of Asses with a tender, heart-wrenching, absolutely poignant move that I loved. It was a delicious save – but a very close call nonetheless.
The Earl of Hawkeswell, Grayson Bridlington, is broke. To get himself out of debt he agrees to marry the ward of some social-climbing idiots, Verity Thompson. Verity, a seemingly meek and timid bride, takes her wedding vows – and before the day is over drowns. But her body is never found, and thus Hawkeswell cannot access Verity’s fortunes nor marry another rich woman. For years he’s waited in limbo, watching his estate crumble around him. Then, on a trip with his friend Summerhays, he meets Lizzy – a woman who looks remarkably like his ‘dead’ bride. It takes mere seconds for Lizzy’s true identity to be revealed – and Hawkeswell makes it clear that his bride will not escape him again. However Verity is no longer the scared, obedient girl she used to be and is now accustomed to her independence – and she wants an annulment, no matter the cost. Hawkeswell sets out to seduce her and keep her by his side while Verity fights desperately to remember why she never wanted to be his wife in the first place.
The plot was about seduction, and the seduction was delicious - the sexual tension smoldering. It never let up and kept the book going at a good pace. But, unfortunately, under all that sex, I had a hard time feeling the love – from either Verity or Hawkeswell. Verity is definitely attracted to Hawkeswell, and vice versa, but behind the attraction I couldn’t find any love. I didn’t feel like they hated one another, just that they were not teeming with love and affection. But… if one looked closely enough, it was there. It was subtle, but Verity stops running and Hawkeswell turns from over-bearing and arrogant to protective and occasionally sweet. I would’ve liked the love to be more pronounced, as it was towards the end, throughout the story. But, looking back, I was satisfied. I also wished that Hawkeswell compromised more with Verity’s wishes. To me, it felt like ALL the changes were made by Verity. That was annoying.
Hawkeswell becomes more likeable throughout the book. There were times when I deeply disliked him for taking away Verity’s independence – but in context of an actual historical era, his actions were not unexpected or ‘evil’. It was just my feminist, contemporary point of view that made me dislike him so intensely at moments. However his actions at the end resolved all my issues with him. To me it showed that he realized Verity’s emotions and actions were not completely under his control, and thus he was recognizing her as a free-thinking, independent (in nature at least) woman instead of simply his wife. What’s more, it also indicated that he cared about Verity’s feelings. While their relationship was definitely rocky, Hawkeswell and Verity have a loving relationship at the end and it was a joy to watch the chase.
“And you, Lord Hawkeswell? As long as we are on the topic - What has been the state of your virtue during my absence?” (Verity)
“I am not in a bad humor because of perceived insult. I am in a bad humor because I am wet.” (Hawkeswell)
“My answer was an effort to be polite. Actually, I am trying not to mind too much that you just implied that you’d rather see my head cut off than be married to me.” (Hawkeswell)
“Sexy”ness rating: Lots of hot seduction, mixed with a little provocative fun
Overall Rating: B
Bottom Line: There’s a lot to be said for this book’s historical accuracy in regards to Hawkeswell’s attitude, and his overpowering stubbornness with Verity. While Hawkeswell and his arrogance anger my feminist nature a bit, it seemed very realistic in regards to the time. I also liked that he was marrying her for money, but came to love her in the end. Good can come from such matches. Yay! A good, though occasionally worrisome, read.
Published: February 23, 2010