on 30 November 2011
This is the fifth book in the Boscastle series.
Having previously met Emma Boscastle, the widower Viscountess Lyons, we are aware of her character. She grew up trying to keep her unruly Boscastle brothers in line, creating a school for underpriveledged women to learn how to become ladies. At a wedding, someone tries to take advantage of her. The hero, Adrian Ruxley, Lord Wolverton, a close friend of the Boscastles brothers, appears and saves the day. However his heroism causes him to have a head injury, so he must stay at the Boscastle home until he recovers. Both are drawn to each other, and during his stay, he gets close to her. When he is about to leave, he is determined to make her his, no matter what her family say. It doesn't take long for the former 'Lady' to end up being seduced and fall in love with Wolverton. Her brothers are aware of Adrian's interest, but as brothers do, want to protect their sister. The Boscastle ladies decide to help Emma find happiness, even if it means duping their own spouses. At the Boscastle home, Adrian sneaks in and sleeps with Emma, then says he will ask her oldest brother for her hand in marriage.
Through the book, we also learn of Wolverton's back story. His father, the Duke of Scarfield, for a time believed Adrian wasn't his legitimate son, so feeling rejected, Adrian left and travelled to the continent, fighting pirates and having affairs with two older ladies. He returns and almost immediately falls in love with Emma. I couldn't help but really feel for this guy. He's not the typical rogue/rake, having only slept with two different women when he meets Emma, and the way he immediately feels very protective of her is quite endearing.
When they are married, the duke somehow learns of Wolverton's marriage and asks them to visit. We learn of the duke's intention for Adrian to marry someone else, and you're led to believe it would create problems, but when the lady arrives to meet them all, she's not exactly how you expected her to be.
Overall, I think this is a very good story. For me, it just misses out on 5 for a couple of reasons. (Spoilers ahead)
1) The Wolvertons journey to see his family. It seemed rather pointless sticking highwaymen there on the way, making Adrian save her again and Emma to get a pistol out. It felt like a filler that should have been cut.
2) How did the Duke of Scarfield learn of Adrian's marriage, when it had been a quiet affair?
3) Emma's quick change of character. For so long, she's been the proper lady, but her eclipse of her character happens so quickly, perhaps too quickly. She desires Adrian and lets him do things to her too quickly, whereas a real 'lady' would have probably slapped him on the knuckles or something. I'm not saying I didn't enjoy the story, I did, and I liked Emma too, but because of the way she'd been portrayed in other stories, she just changed too quickly for my liking.