Author: Mary Balogh
Why did I read the book: I read One Night for Love and liked Lauren in that book so I was curious to read more about her.
Summary: A year after being abandoned at the altar during the wedding she had dreamed of all her life, Lauren Edgeworth is in London to spend a quiet couple of months with her aunt, Elizabeth, Duchess of Portfrey, during the latter’s confinement. Christopher “Kit” Butler, Viscount Ravensberg, is in London getting into every imaginable wild scrape and fast becoming one of London’s most notorious rakehells. But now he has been summoned home in order to become betrothed to a woman chosen by his father, who banished him for life just three years before. Desperate to do things on his own terms, Kit hastily searches for a bride to take home with him, someone his father cannot possibly object to, someone above reproach, someone dull, respectable, prim, and perfect. One of his friends suggests Lauren but then adds that Kit is surely the very last man she would accept for a husband. The challenge proves irresistible, and Kit wagers that he will have wooed and wed Lauren within six weeks…
Lauren is a proper lady, prim and educated to control her emotions no matter what. After being left by her childhood sweetheart, she wants no future for herself other than being an independent spinster. Kit is seemly a care-for-nothing whose father is bent on seeing married to a neighbor and he angrily sets out to get a bride by himself and the feels that Lauren will fill the role quite perfectly. If at first, he is drawn to her over a wage with some friends, soon his sense of honor makes him come clean with Lauren and after explaining the situation they make a deal: Lauren will help him by pretending to be his bride so that Kit can assert himself in front of his father and at the end of the summer, she will break off the engagement making them both free. The only thing she asks in return is that Kit shows her how to have fun. It may sound silly, but Lauren has never enjoyed herself: she has been bound by a sense of duty to her adoptive family and by her own beliefs that a proper lady will be serious and collected.
So, Kit and Lauren travel to his father estate and he sets out to help her coming out of her shell, a task that is not difficult for him – he is described as having laughing eyes that match what goes on inside. Or does it? Because nothing is as simple as it seems. Kits hides behind his playfulness some serious grieving: the horrors of the war he fought, his pain over the loss of an older brother and his alienation from his family. Most of all, the guilt over the horrendous fate that his younger suffered after joining the army, to follow on his footsteps.
Lauren , also even though still believing with all of her being that she should carry on as she is , starts to have pure, unadulterated fun with Kit and with her empathy towards his family , help them overcome their problems. Eventually Kit comes to have real feelings towards her and tries win her affections but Lauren is set on being free and Kit respects her and hides his feelings as to not compromise her dreams. They break up but they get together in the end when Kit was finally able to tell her that he loved her and she was finally able to accept his love as a free woman = free from the restraints she has imposed herself.
The romance between Lauren and Kit is one that felt very real. There is no immediate combustion of nether parts as they meet each other – only a few superficial remarks that they are both beautiful people . There is instant realisation that they MUST have each other. Theirs is a slow burning passion, that ignites only after they have become friends and comrades and have shared both secrets and joyful moments.
Although I do prefer my romance novels to be more passionate and to have passion!Possession!She is MINE! , elements, I do realise that in real life love, does not happen like that. Well, not in my experience anyway. And this what I really like about Mary Balogh’s books, that even though we can expect a happy ending for the protagonists as is the ethos of romance novels, the way there is usually a very realistic way.
This is my second book by this author and I am very impressed with her writing and the paths she chooses in her storytelling. And it is beyond my comprehension at how some people can regard all romance novels as trashy books. Surely there are the badly written ones as there are in any other genre in literature but this one is an example at how good the genre can be.
Notable quotes/ Parts: Kit was so devastated when Lauren left him and yet he still did not do anything to make her stay – this is how much her dreams mattered to him. That is real RESPECT right there. He eventually of course, decides he can’t cope anymore and goes after her and their encounter is so so sweet.
Also the sequence when Lauren faces Freyja Bedwyn, the neighbour and ex affianced bride of Kit. Freyja is fierce, a force to be reckoned with but Lauren stands her ground with all her ladylike cool manner. Awesome. And funny.
Additional Thoughts: We are introduced to the Bedwyn family, a gang of 6 brothers and sisters, neighbours of Kit who are all Alpha female/males. And they all have their own books which are called the Slightly series, which I intend to read as soon as possible.
Verdict: very good novel all around. I admit I prefer lighter, funnier reads but this one is a keeper.
Rating: 7, Very good, and better than One Night for Love, in my opinion.
Reading next: Beauty by Robin McKinley.