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on 19 December 2001
I have previously read a couple of Emma Holly's books in the Black Lace series, and enjoyed them immensely but for me this is her best book to date. Although it is as sexy and sizzling as you would expect from this author, it is not as explicit as her Black Lace books, and concentrates more on exploring the romance between the characters and their emotions.
The story focuses on two brothers intent on preventing a family scandal, and a young, innocent girl fresh from the countryside who is simply looking for marriage and some measure of security for her future. Unwittingly she provides the perfect solution to their problems but needless to say, all does not go to plan when she is attracted to the wrong brother, and he finds himself equally entranced by her. The passion that is unleashed between them threatens to unravel all their lives.
The elder brother, Edward, is austere, autocratic and arrogant - the perfect Victorian hero, while his younger brother Freddie is frivolous and amusing, the darling of society. Florence is pure, innocent and beautiful, with the disarming ability to inspire love in all who know her. Their are some amusing and touching scenes where, much to her great embarrassment, her sweet nature is highlighted by the unwanted devotion she sparks in cats and children.
As the story moves from London to their country estate, an epic struggle follows as Florence tries to contain her burgeoning sexuality, and Edward strives to control the lust and love she inspires in him.
The story is both romantic and sensual, and the main characters are very likeable. I fell totally in love with both Edward and Freddie, and I felt great symapthy for Florence's plight. Added to this, Emma Holly has created a whole host of interesting and entertaining characters to support the main personalities in the book and keep the story moving at a good pace so that it retained my interest right through to the end. This is a book I have and will continue to read again and again.
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on 14 April 2003
Holly has chosen quite a complex issue here. In addition to romantic love between man and woman, the book explores the love of an elder brother for the younger, and the issue of homosexuality in the Regency period. Edward Burbrooke thinks that marriage is the answer for his brother Freddie, to save Freddie from scandal following recent exploits (the footman, no less! Shock, horror). Edward truly loves his brother and does not want Freddie’s life in society to be ruined by his exploits, so he looks for the most sweet and innocent woman he can find to save his brother’s reputation. Enter Florence Fairleigh, a vicars daughter, newly arrived in London, all alone in the world and in something approaching desperate circumstances. Although feeling some guilt in the manipulation, Edward sets out to ensure that Florence will marry his brother and save them all. And as Freddie and Florence soon become engaged, the plan seems to be working. Except that really, none of the three want this, and the situation is about to get very out of hand. Attractions ignite into something more (for all three). Then Florence finds out what Edward’s plan was all along…
The themes of brotherly love of Edward and Freddie with it’s subtext of protection, and repression of sexuality in Regency times are both handled with sympathy by Holly. All three of the central characters here grow, make decisions – good or bad – and live with the repercussions of those decisions. It’s not a life changing book, but there are some interesting issues explored. And it’s unusual in that Freddie has almost as large a part to play in the text as Edward and Florence.
Steamy, fun, sensitive, sad – for a ‘simple’ romantic tale, there’s a lot to recommend itself in this book.
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on 9 May 2003
I loved this book. Miss Holly created a sympathetic and believable tale that revolves around conflicts of different kinds of love. I was impressed with the way she handled the homosexuality of Edwards brother Freddie, there was no sugary sweet ending but rather a satisfyingly realistic happy one for everyone. Oh and if you like your love scenes hot, sensual and guaranteed to get you daydreaming this is the book for you. I'm off to order Ms Holly's other historical novels.
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on 2 January 2003
I can only agree with the other reader here - this is a great Emma Holly novel. I too have read some of Emma's contemporary erotic novels and this is an excellent read too - full of life and good fun for the reader. There is a wonderful weaving together of erotica and period romance and this allows Emma to be very tender and sensitive with her characters as well as being explicit and passionate with them too - what a fabulous blend! Her sensual voice really does gets shown to full advantage in the period setting. A great read and fun for the more traditional romance reader too.
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on 31 May 2007
This book was my first by EH and I've got to say that I was quite disappointed. I mean I expected the book to a be a bit more...everything I suppose. Raunchy, exciting, emotional... I don't know. From the li'l 'soundbite on the fronte cover i know that what i expected and what I got were different.

I am definitely not saying that this is a bad book but let's just say that I shan't be reading it again. I think that EH was 'hedging her bets' like crazy throughout the entire plot: these days we romance-addicts are crying out for more original stories other than your typical boy-meets-girl plot and EH seems to trying a little to hard to cater to that without upsetting the delicate sensibilities of the more traditional reader. Let me give you some examples. Our heroine is not a only charmingly innocent and helplessly stranded in the big bad world, she also has a strong head on her shoulders and manages to get herself out of dire situations. Not only is our hero an honourable man who loves his (quite gay) brother to distraction, he also sleeps with the woman he actually thinks his brother is in love with under the pretext of 'showing her a good time in the sack'. Sure Miss Holly throws in the very controversial topic of homosexuality in the regency era, but she somehow handles it in the most...uncontroversial way possible, taking most, if not all the excitment out of it.

I bought this book from amazon cos it was automatically recommended to me based on my previous purchases from the likes of Angela Knight. But trust me, if you like the Knight's stuff, you'll be very...underwhelmed by this book. Emma Holly's other books however, are much MUCH more promising and though I do not necessarily regret buying this book, I do wish that I'd bought some of her others first because I find myself quite reluctant to read any more of her stuff.

So to summarise my babbling, buy this book if

a)you're looking for something passably emotional enough to pass the time but not raunchy enough to keep you awake at night:)

b)you're looking for a book that's different but still very similar to every other romance novel you've read and finally c)you want a book that ends in a typically 'happy everafter' that's sweet but leaves you dry-eyed.

I liked this book too much to give it less than 3 stars and too little to give it more.
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on 5 May 2007
I would support the other reviewers in their enjoyment of this novel. It's romance, with more than a touch of realism. There are no easy answers for the situation in which the three main characters find themselves, but they allow themselves to be guided by their love for one another and don't allow themselves to make the same mistakes that those around them have made.

This is a book I'll read again and again.
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