I usually start my reviews with a summary in my own words and then move on to how I felt about the romance, plot, characters, etc. I’m going to do things a bit different with this review.
Blurb from Goodreads:
Lady Aileen never thought she’d be in this position—falling in love with her sister’s betrothed! Of course, her sister did run away rather than marry him, and he doesn’t seem to be all that interested in her sister either, but even so, such a match is impossible…isn’t it?
Aileen is certain she must turn away from the man she loves in order to protect her sister’s reputation. However, he’s not one to give up without a fight, and now that he’s met a woman he wants to marry, nothing on earth could convince him to let Aileen go
The main reason I am writing this review in a slightly different way is because regardless of what the blurb says, this book isn’t solely about Lady Aileen. No, this book is about Lady Aileen, her sister Lady Tara Davidson, Tara’s fiancé Blake Stephens, Tara’s first love Ruary Jamerson and Ruary’s fiancé Jane Sawyer. The POV shifts repeatedly between all five of these characters. In fact I would say this book is more about Lady Tara than anyone, as she is at the center of the storyline and everyone’s happiness depends on her decisions.
The prologue starts off with Lady Aileen finally getting the chance to come out in society and her optimism in finding a true love match. She and Lady Tara have been shut away at their country estate, Annefield, for years, while their father the Earl of Tay gambles, womanizes and lives his life in London. After years of taking care of her sister in the safety of the country it’s finally Lady Aileen’s turn to head out into the world and find true love. Unfortunately, between the prologue and first chapter times jumps nine years so we don’t actually know all that happens to Lady Aileen during her debut in London and her married life afterwards. We just know she has returned to the countryside a divorcee accused of adultery who now stays out of the public eye and that her married life was miserable. That’s when her sister Lady Tara makes her appearance and I believe takes over much of this book.
Lady Tara jilts her fiancé, Blake Stephens, and runs home when she realizes that she really is in love with the Horse Master for Annefield. But unfortunately for her Ruary Jamerson has moved past his feelings for the spoiled, flighty daughter of the Earl of Tay and has recently become engaged to another woman. Of course her fiancé, accompanied by the earl, chases her to Scotland because the shame of being abandoned right before a wedding isn’t something the bastard son of a duke wants to experience. That’s when things get confusing. Tara wants Ruary, but agrees to go ahead with the wedding to Blake when Ruary confesses his engagement to Jane. That doesn’t mean she stops chasing after Ruary, just that she has to keep a man on the hook in case Ruary doesn’t fall back into her arms. In the meantime Lady Aileen and Blake have fallen in love,. but Aileen won’t let Blake out of marrying her sister unless she agrees to cry off. Then there is Jane. Poor Jane who has to listen to the rumors of her betrothed running around with another woman at the same time her banns are being read.
In the middle of all of this is Tara. A spoiled, ridiculous girl who is so rude and self-absorbed that even at the end she doesn’t do the right thing for her sister’s sake, but because it makes Tara feel better. I was so happy when someone finally said something to her:
Sabrina smiled evenly. “No, I don’t dislike you, Tara, but you are selfish. I understand why. If I had your looks and your father with his own special type of benign neglect, I might behave the same. It is probably not entirely your fault.
Personally, I might have been a tad bit more forceful in my language, but that’s just me.
I know that this is supposed to be Aileen’s love story, with the next book being about Lady Tara, but her personality and presence take a such a backstage to her sister that this didn’t feel like her book at all. By the time she and Blake fall in love and begin an affair I was more caught up in what Tara would do, how she would react to all the ongoing situations and figuring who her love interest might be in the next book in the series. Even Aileen and Blake’s happily ever after didn’t feel like their own. Just more Tara time. I do plan on reading the next book in the series, The Bride Says Maybe, mainly because if anyone can redeem such an unlikable heroine as Tara, it would be Cathy Maxwell. Final Grade- C-
Her boldness stole his breath. With what little sanity he had left, he demanded. “Why?”
She moved closer to him to press her lips against the line of his jaw. “Because there isn’t another man in the world like Mr. Stephens,” she whispered. “And I am in the mood to make you very happy.”