Annie Andrews is young, headstrong and determined to marry Mr. Arthur Eggleston; Jordan Holloway, Earl of Ashbourne, is a confirmed bachelor, best friend to Annie’s new brother-in-law and determined to stop her.
With her sister Lily happily married and off on her honeymoon, Annie sees the perfect opportunity to convince Mr. Arthur Eggleston to ask for her hand in marriage. When she realizes that Lily has tasked Jordan with keeping an eye on her, she sets out to elude him but is foiled time and again. The cat-and-mouse game which starts out somewhat in fun becomes more high-stakes as Annie begins to make choices that threaten her reputation, and Jordan finds himself increasingly annoyed at, yet also protective of and attracted to, his young charge. Whisking her away to his country estate, he sees a new side to the young woman he’d considered a flighty nuisance and takes steps to find her a groom, stunned when his attempts backfire, hurting her feelings and offending him on her behalf—and stirring emotions he didn’t believe he was capable of. Could it be he’s met his match in the vexing chit? This book is the follow-up novel to Bowman’s debut, Secrets of a Wedding Night (2012), and it shines with the same charm and wit. The dialogue sparkles, and the characters—especially Annie—have unexpected depth and subtle layers that make them relatable and authentic, even when they’re doing things that, on surface level, we know they shouldn’t. Watching cynical Jordan succumb to Annie’s naively seductive personality is sweet and touching, and we are thoroughly invested in the relationship long before the main characters understand that they are falling in love, which makes their romantic enlightenment more potentially devastating and ultimately satisfying.
A fun, delightful yet emotionally poignant late-Regency romance which succeeds on every level.