I am conflicted on scoring Cathy Maxwell's latest novel, I thought I would enjoy it more than I did based on the first chapter; it's exciting and humorous but this read has its weak moments (the heroine is a little immature). Overall I liked the book but realize it will probably not be going on my keeper shelf. The hero is so memorable though that it bumps this up to a four star read.
Abigail Montross is in love with someone who is selfish, spoiled and vain but she just does not see these faults. She is twenty-five and has been jilted by her titled fiancé (a character in a previous novel) but hopes her true love Freddie, will make an offer, he does but for her cousin. Abigail's father is a rich banker and he sets up a possible match for Abby, to a man with thirteen children, she is not happy about her father's choice.
Spanish adonis, Viscount Andres de Vasconia knows that Abby loves Freddy, he overheard their conversation at a ball and he also knows that Abby is very wealthy. Andres is cash poor and also stinging from a love affair gone wrong. He is offered a great opportunity; a jealous husband wants him out of London and entices him with landed property in Northern England complete with a stable, all Andre's if he promises never to return to London again. This is absolutely appealing to Andres who has always longed to own a horse farm. He needs cash quickly and his thoughts turn to Abby. The two form a business agreement in the form of a marriage with both sides getting what they want, Andres has his money and Abby gets a husband of her own choosing and neither one is in love with the other.
Andres is a dashing completely romantic and dreamy character, I fell in love with him from the start. He is misunderstood and mocked by the ton, he has been dogged his whole life by feelings of inadequacy and this farm finally brings him a chance of redemption. He is hardworking, surprising for a man in his position and for the most part honest too; some of the best scenes are when he reveals his subterfuge and his hidden past with Abby.
Abby is not as dynamic as her male lead. She can be demanding and is much more self-centered than her husband. With the exception of her jilted fiancé, her life has been pretty easy, unlike Andre's and she has the expectation that Andres should be willing to sacrifice everything for her when she is not as willing to do the same for him. She does have some fine scenes with Andres though, especially ones where they are working together for a common goal, here Abby is focused, unselfish and above all understanding.
This novel has its high and low moments The beginning was especially good and the couple's journey north was too; Andre's romantic side comes through because Ms Maxwell does an excellent job of letting these leads discover their best qualities through conversation and unselfish deeds on this long road trip. Other sections slowed the story and I admit the ending was a little too melodramatic and the dialogue too syrupy sweet. This novel though is entertaining and it's mostly because of Andres who might just be one of the best heroes that Cathy Maxwell has ever created.