Devourer of books with a preference for fiction. Quite good at competitive reading. Happily hoards books of all kinds. Gets stabby going too long without reading.
Miss Cecily Hale is at a country house with a number of friends, and they are trying to keep themselves entertained with stories and diversions. Cecily really wants nothing more than to catch the attention of Luke Trenton, Viscount Merritt, the man she has pined for since he kissed her four years ago, on the eve of going to war.
The war is over, but it changed Luke irrevocably. His memories of Cecily kept him company on the battlefield, but he has returned from the Napoleonic wars a changed man. He has done dark and unforgivable things to survive and while he admires and lusts for Cecily, he wants better for her than someone like him.
Of course, Luke is not the only one changed in the last four years. Cecily hasn't just been sitting at home, hoping for Luke's return. She's kept herself occupied, trying to be useful. She just needs enough time alone with Luke to show him that he's wrong about her and her delicate nature, and even as dark as his memories of being a soldier are, she is more than woman enough to take care of him.
This is Tessa Dare's first ever romance. It's a prequel to her first series of novels, the eye-rollingly entitled Wanton Dairymaid trilogy. While there is some traces here of what makes her such an enjoyable writer in later books, I think a lot of the charm and spark of her later novels is missing. There is some banter, the Gothic house party setting is clever and I really enjoyed the reveal of what Cecily has been keeping herself gainfully occupied while the country was still at war with France. I don't regret reading it, or spending the dollar I did on it, but I doubt I'm going to ever re-read it, or think much about it in future.
Judging a book by its cover: This is a fairly generic romance cover. Brooding dude with his shirt half undone, so you can see his manly chest clutching beautiful lady with a heaving bosom. As is sadly usually the case, she's wearing a dress that isn't even vaguely period appropriate, it looks more like someone's prom dress. I can't say I'm very enthusiastic about it at all.