One of my favorite things about reading and reviewing for NetGalley is finding great books that I wouldn’t have discovered otherwise. Like this one for instance, an insanely adorable romance that I was unsure about at the beginning (things seemed to move really fast at the start) but ended up being completely charmed by.
I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
A semi-reclusive duke sets out to engage in a marriage of convenience to produce an heir, never expecting to fall for his duchess, especially when his top priority is to avoid anything resembling love. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.
Ashton’s aunt wants him to produce an heir, and since she took care of him after his parents died, he wants to make her happy. The problem is, Ash doesn’t want to fall in love. His father was so passionate over his mother that their relationship ended in tragedy, and Ash refuses to go there. So he sets out to find a marriage of convenience which would include a marriage contract stipulation that he get his bride pregnant and then send her back to London with the baby.
The Responsible Sister
Caroline wants Ashton to marry her sister, an arrangement that would help their family with the finances needed to continue taking care of Caroline’s mother. Thinking her sister, the pretty one, would be more desirable to the duke, she’s surprised when he shows interest in her. Though she refuses, she finds herself trapped when she’s found in a compromising position with Ashton, leaving her no choice but to marry him and enter into his contract.
Bent, Not Broken
Both of these characters come into the relationship damaged from prior events, so even though there’s a strong attraction, there is also a lot of hesitation to actually do the thing. Though Ashton comes across as kind of a dick at the beginning, it’s soon made clear that if anything, he just has no idea how to relate to a woman or how to be a husband.
Plain & Round
Caro is not beautiful by society standards, thinking of herself as the woman men like to bed, not marry. Being that she was a larger woman, I wasn’t exactly sure how I felt about that whole summation, though I liked that curviness was called out as being something desirable. More in-depth discussion on this could take a whole other blog post. For reals.
Getting to Know You
I really enjoyed how their relationship developed, especially when, in order to get to know each other without any sexual pressure, they carry on several conversations from opposite sides of a closed door. It seemed sweet that Ash was willing to give her space, even though he tended to make stupid decisions and say stupid things most of the time. There was enough conflict and angst to keep it from feeling too easy, but there was also alot of heat and angst that kept my emotions running with the story.
Another Way to Fake It
I really did love this book, but there were a few things that I questioned. The first time Caro and Ash get their bang on, he thinks he’s hurting her because she stiffens up and says nothing, but you find out she feels she has to hide her pleasure from him, even though she’s totally into it. Maybe I read it too fast or zoned out, but I don’t know that it was explained why that was, and it never happens again. It did set it up for Ash to not want to push her, as he believes he’s hurt her, but I was really curious about the story behind why she felt she couldn’t show passion.
It’s mentioned at the beginning that Caro has a secret that only three people know, and one of those people is dead, one is no longer right in the head, and the third is her, and she won’t talk. It’s revealed who hurt her and why she’s so nervous and blames herself for things in the past, but I was under the impression that person was dead…until he sends a lawyer to try to get custody of Caro’s mother and sister (it’s not her father, but another relative who was placed in charge of the family). I always give the benefit of the doubt since I do tend to read fast and sometimes miss key details, but this part confused me.
The Romance Factor
I loved the romantic interplay between Caro and Ash. They’re constantly fighting their feelings for the other, and when they’re not doing that, they’re fighting their own beliefs and perceptions formed from the things in their pasts. There’s one part of the book where they’re happy, and then something happens and it makes their fall from happiness that much harder to take. My feels were all over the place. 5/5
The Steam Factor
There wasn’t too much detail or too many sex scenes, but there were definitely some erotic moments, mainly during the time they’re talking through the door and Ash decides to verbally seduce Caro. Then he realizes he can see her through her lock, and though I feel like I should be weirded out by this, it actually made those scenes really hot, especially when Caro realizes he can see her and just rolls with it. 5/5
I have to read the future books in this series. I’m betting Caro’s sister makes a love match (a possible interest is hinted at). I enjoyed this author’s writing style and how much emotion she put into the story and the characters. Possible inconsistencies aside, I was hooked and stayed up way too late to finish this one. No regrets.