This is my first book by this author, but it won’t be my last. We definitely started off on the right foot. As soon as I started reading, I was hooked. I smiled my way through the book and finished it wishing I had an easier time finding books that pleased me as much as this one did.
I was completely gone for both of the main characters. They were both so interesting and just plain likable. They both needed what marriage to each other would bring, and it was refreshing to see a Marriage of Convenience storyline where both parties were matter of fact and accepting of the limitations of such a union. There was no angst, no regretful moping…ah, bliss. It was just two practical people developing a friendship and slowly falling in love.
The humor here was great. The situations were laugh out loud, without straying toward being over the top. The heroine, Jocelyn, is usually at the center of the debacles, and the unexpecting hero, Blake, is left to try and keep up.
“I’ve met her only the once, when we visited Lady Bell a few months back. She seems a pleasant sort.”
“She shot me in the foot and stole an obscene parrot!”
It’s not that Jocelyn tries to be outrageous, she is just willing to do whatever it takes to take care of the people that she feels responsible for. If that means stealing a bird, well, a girl’s got to do what a girl’s got to do.
I adored Jocelyn. She was always reading people, ready to turn the situation to her advantage. Blake was the total opposite. He was bluntly honest, to the point of rudeness. He had no compunction about bellowing and generally acting crabby, but he was the kind of guy with manners so ingrained that he would help you across a puddle, without even thinking about it, and all the while he would be lecturing or ranting. They both had to learn to adjust to each other’s personalities, but I loved watching the journey.
I think the author did an excellent job of creating believable, sympathetic family situations, without miring us in angst. Blake couldn’t stand being coddled anymore and Jocelyn was at her wits’ end with all the lives she was responsible for. They both needed each other to provide an occasional breather from their burdens. It didn’t happen overnight, but slowly they learned to trust each other.
I loved the secondary characters and am on pins and needles, hoping to see a book for Quentin and Lady Bell. Their sparring was delicious. Plus, having a hero in trade promises an intriguing conflict. That brings up something I wanted to mention. For all those who have been looking for HR’s that don’t focus on the higher nobility and the ton, look no further. Jocelyn is the estranged half sister of a viscount, and Blake is the third son of a Baron, but neither of them have much to do with society—barring a few short scenes in the book. Blake’s major goal in life is to crack codes, and Jocelyn just wants to have a home of her own. They are both pleased with their lot in life and don’t aspire for loftier things.
There is a spy subplot in the book. It didn’t really interest me, but it didn’t bother me either. For the most part it was a background feature. It was only toward the end that it came to the forefront. I felt it slowed down the momentum of the story a little, but not enough to impact my grade. Besides, it probably wouldn’t bother someone who enjoyed that sort of thing more.
“How do you do that? How do you take everything I say and turn it around so that you seem sweet and appealing, when I know you are simply skewering me?”