Reviewed by Ashia
DARING MISS DANVERS has an interesting premise with a few snags on the execution.
When her brother's close friend, Oliver, Lord Rathburn, asks for her help to secure her inheritance, Emma Danvers agrees, vowing not to lose her heart in the bargain. However, soon, she finds herself falling for him and he seems to return the sentiment. What happens when he finds out the secret she's been keeping from him?
The story starts out well and snags the reader's interest. The interaction between Emma and Oliver were deliciously exciting, especially the potential for more. However, toward the middle, I felt that the story drags somewhat, especially when Emma and Oliver never seem to be able to tell the other the truth--for Emma, that she might possess some talent in the arts that might cause her and subsequently Oliver to be a pariah in the ton, and for Oliver, that the real reason for their sham engagement no longer exists. I felt that even if they had been honest with each other about this early on, there would still have been enough to propel us to the end. As it was though, the story became bogged down somewhat in the middle. However, the ending, when it came, was done in the right note. I like that all the truths came out with everyone there. It was certainly different.
Another thing that confused me was Oliver's status in Emma's family, in particular to Emma: Was he merely an acquaintance or a friend? Moreover, whether friend or acquaintance, what could've prompted her to agree to help Oliver in a fake engagement? The reason for her agreement wasn't convincing, especially as she was very concerned about her reputation and that it remain spotless, since she wanted to snag a husband after all this is behind her. Although the author gave a more persuasive reason later on, I felt it couldn't account for Emma's earlier actions.
Oliver's character was done well; he has more substance and depth than the usual rakes, molded as he was by the death of his father. His pain over the accident was described perfectly and his resulting actions stemmed logically from the tragedy. Of course, he could've gone the other way, and so it was a testament to the solidity of Oliver's character that he turned out the way he did. All in all, a worthy hero, and yes, perhaps, "a prize above all others".
Emma's friendship with the other women was great, especially in the way they support one another. The Dowager Duchess was one of the more interesting characters, as was Bane, Lord Knightswold. In fact, he seems more interesting than Oliver, in the sense that he's more potently male and the usual Regency rake we see in the novels. I can't wait to read his story!