Like No Other Lover was a find for me and Julie Anne Long an author I'd never read before. It is part of a series but I read it as a stand alone and found it unputdownable.
Cynthia is a make-no-bones-about-it fortune hunter. Readers are aware that she has a mysterious past but are introduced to her in the prologue from Miles' perspective. At a society ball she dismisses him of out hand as a second son and therefore not worth her consideration. Miles, instantly attracted to the socialite who reminds him of a butterfly, is devastated at hearing her write him off and his attraction swiftly turns into hatred.
Years later, following a scandal, Cynthia retreats from London to the country and finds herself at a party held at Miles' home. This is her last chance to find a rich husband and Miles himself must marry for money as he needs funds to lead an exotic nature expedition. Fate has deemed it impossible for them to come together and they both begin to woo their prospective cash cows. As they charm others they battle together and Long's dialogue here is witty and honest.
I found Cynthia to be an admirable character. She is a strong, independent and determined woman oppressed by circumstance and the Regency Era. Her choices are limited and as she began to reveal more of her past and her desperation I found myself enthralled by her. She is both charming and fun. Miles is a naturalist, intelligent and honourable. He is usually a logical man but Cynthia inspires him to think in metaphors and similes and this irritates him no end. As a hero he was beyond excellent but this is Cynthia's novel and he just happens to be her perfect fit.
The novel began slowly for me but the catalyst came when Cynthia accused Miles of treating her destitution like a game. Her accusation and ensuing revelations were heartbreaking and brought tears to my eyes as I realised, along with Miles, the extent of her misery. When it becomes clear to her that they really can never be together the scene that follows is shattering in its tenderness - "It was gratitude and apology; it was acknowledgement of all there was between them that would never be spoken. It was reassurance and farewell."
Purely for containing some of the most loving scenes I've read in a Regency romance and for a heroine reminiscent of Breakfast at Tiffany's Holly Golightly, Like No Other Lover deserves no less than five stars.