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Riveting Read - Loved both the H/h - Thomas at her Best!
on 19 July 2014
I read this book a few months ago and decided to re-read it today. I might have enjoyed it even more on the 2nd read than I did on the first. Christian, the Duke of Lexington first encountered the lovely Venetia when he was a young man and was forever bound by her great beauty. His initial disbelief that she was married and unavailable was nearly unbearable. As if that fact wasn't enough, once husband #1 passes on, Venetia marries again, but unknown to Christian it is a white marriage to an older man who has a secret male lover/companion - a fact that Venetia is fully aware of - a prior agreement where each party got what they wanted out of the marriage. Venetia has suffered greatly from the effects of her first marriage and she needed time and freedom to heal. This second marriage gave her that time and she was left a very wealthy widow. But... her second husband's family disparages her and some believe their accusations that she is a cruel, heartless beauty.
Christian is a man of science who has lived his life based on facts, not feelings. The fact that he has pined for Venetia and her unearthly beauty for 8 long years has frustrated him to the point, he begins to blame her and, in point of fact, has heard of the rumors surrounding Venetia and has convinced himself that she is all beauty but no heart.
When Venetia and her sister and other companion travel to America, they hear that the almighty Duke of Lexington will be giving a lecture at Harvard. Venetia, having absolutely no clue of Christian's feelings for her, desires that her sister be able to meet Christian thinking the two of them might make a match. The three ladies attend the lecture and at some point, a question is asked from the audience that Christian decides to answer with anecdotal evidence as opposed to scientific evidence. Since he is in America, he doesn't think anyone will ever connect his example of Venetia and her great beauty/wicked heart back in England. He goes on to describe a scenario specific and to the point that Venetia and her companions know exactly who he is speaking about. Of course, Christian doesn't know that the beauteous Venetia is in the audience and as as matter of fact, as soon as his lecture is over, he knows in his heart he should never have used such an example, for what if his remarks do find their way back to England.
Venetia is dumbfounded at Christian's remarks and remains so for a few days. Her sister isn't happy with him either and when she suggests to Venetia she should make Christian fall in love with her and then drop him like a hot potato, Venetia is too upset to give it much thought. But, she is so distraught she decides to head home earlier than her companions and as she enters the hotel where she will stay the first night, she encounters the despicable Duke of Lexington. She is, fortunately, veiled and decides to speak German so Christian won't recognize her. She soon learns that he will be taking a cruise home and decides to teach him a lesson. She buys a ticket on the same ship he is sailing on but she keeps her veil on and travels as a German baroness who can only speak German. Of course Christian can also speak German and very soon he is fascinated by the lovely baroness. She agrees to become his lover but makes him promise that he will never make her unveil, or at least not look at her face.
While on the cruise home, they have a hey-go-mad love affair and before you know it, they are head over heels. When they depart, Christian tells her that they will meet at the Savoy in a few days time - he is expecting that she will unveil and they will move on with their lives together. But, it isn't that simple because now the cat is out of the bag and people in London know he disparaged Venetia back in America and Christian's reputation is being affected, etc. How will this all play out? Will Venetia let him know who she is and that her trick has backfired on her heart? Stuff happens and hearts are broken but of course eventually Christian learns some facts and realizes he assumed things he should not have. Lovely romance between two lovely people.