Published by Bantam on November 1991
Source: Purchased: ebook
From the elegantly appointed drawing rooms of London's most exclusive club to an imposing country estate in the heart of Dorset comes a provocative tale of a free-thinking beauty, a dignified lord, and a mad impetuous love that defied all logic....
Augusta Ballinger was quite sure that is was all a dreadful mistake. The chillingly pompous and dangerously disturbing Earl of Graystone could not possibly wish to marry her. Why, it was rumored that his chosen bride must be a veritable model of virtue. And everyone knew that Augusta, as the last of the wild, reckless Northumberland Ballingers, was a woman who could not be bothered with society's rules....
That was why the spirited beauty had planned a midnight encounter to warn the earl off, to convince him that she would make him a very poor wife indeed. But when she crawled in through his darkened study window, Augusta only succeeded in strengthening Harry's resolve to kiss the laughter from those honeyed lips and teach the maddening miss to behave! How could he possibly know that it was he who was in for a lesson...as his brazen fiancee set out to win his heart -- and an old and clever enemy stepped in to threaten their love, their honor, and their very lives?
Another older Amanda Quick book. I read this for romance bingo and honestly I am glad that I finished up the other Quick book. Her writing style after a while starts to grate. I realize that all of the females in her books are “quirky” and the heroes are long suffering and either want the heroine to fall in love with them or are obtuse to the heroine being in love with them and railing against it while needing to have sex with said heroine all of the time. Did you follow that? I know, it’s confusing.
This book had more plot than “Scandal” did, and there was actually a nice look and see for the hero/heroine at the end of this one (you get a flash forward so to speak a few months after the end of the book, and then again a few months later). That said, the heroine (Augusta Ballinger) was annoying because of her constant need to go on and on about her ancestors. The hero (Harry, the Earl of Graystone) I liked okay, but I started to get twitchy because the guy was going around demanding loyalty from her while going on about how he would need to take her in hand to make her act like she should. I so would have been burned as a witch in Regency era days.
Augusta Ballinger goes on and on about her family tree of the Ballinger family located in Northumberland. I hope you like reading the phrases “Northumberland Ballinger” and how they are the best, smartest, bravest, daring people ever. It was so stupid. I really wanted to kick Augusta by the time we got to the end of the book. I started to loathe the word Ballinger because Northumberland was lurking around. Augusta is orphaned and alone after the murder of her brother years before this book takes place, so I can see why she wants to make her family the best thing ever. But geez Louise, at least let someone call her out on it. Thank goodness though Harry does at one point.
What gets me most about these type of books though, Augusta in her current style of going about things would have been cut from society long ago. This to me was just one misstep that Quick really had. Augusta starts a lady salon that is based on gentlemen’s clubs. And like those clubs they have betting and play cards, etc. Not that there are anything wrong with those. I just cannot imagine any father or brother being okay with their sister or wives going to a club like this back then without getting in trouble.
Harry though he is bright, also seems to be a bit dense. He comes back home married to his daughter and commands her to start calling Augusta “Mama” and is ticked when she doesn’t comply. Forget understanding kids, how do you not understand maybe your new wife wouldn’t be feeling awesome about that as well.
Augusta and Harry are not my favorite romance couple ever. There are a lot of back and forths between them. But besides their hot and heavy sex, I was bored by them both. There is a conflict in part of the book that is taken care of by the author in a few short pages, and then it suddenly becomes about Augusta wanting to be close to Harry and be a real family.
There are some fun side characters in this one that I wish we had been able to follow around. I realize now maybe that is why Quick in her Lavinia Lake and Tobias March books started to tell POVs from every character in the book (that got old quick though). I loved the character of Peter, Claudia (Augusta’s cousin and part of a different branch of Ballingers) and Sallie as well.
The initial plot really is that Harry is looking for a virtuous woman to marry since he realizes he needs a mother for his 9 year old daughter Meredith. All of London are gossiping about Harry and who is on his famous list of potential wives since he apparently has criteria for the best wife ever. Augusta Ballinger for no reason at all finds herself attracted to Harry due to him being around more and more to talk to her uncle who is also interested in history as well. Then the plot shifts again a bit to talk about the fact that our hero did something dark and mysterious during the Napoleonic Wars and he still is after a spy that was called the Spider who a lot of deaths are attributed to. That latter plot takes up most of the book and includes Augusta in a rather odd way. It honestly didn’t fit much I think, but Quick tries to tie things together.
The writing gets really repetitive after a while though. And sometimes certain plots or comments made don’t seem followed up on. For example, it is heavily implied that Augusta’s mother was The initial plot really is that Harry is looking for a virtuous woman to marry since he realizes he needs a mother for his 9 year old daughter Meredith. All of London are gossiping about Harry and who is on his famous list of potential wives since he apparently has criteria for the best wife ever. Augusta Ballinger for no reason at all finds herself attracted to Harry due to him being around more and more to talk to her uncle who is also interested in history as well. Then the plot shifts again a bit to talk about the fact that our hero did something dark and mysterious during the Napoleonic Wars and he still is after a spy that was called the Spider who a lot of deaths are attributed to. That latter plot takes up most of the book and includes Augusta in a rather odd way. It honestly didn’t fit much I think, but Quick tries to tie things together. unfaithful, and her father was constantly fighting duels and somehow that was ignored in later chapters for the fact that her mother was devoted/in love with her father and Augusta seems to be in the dark about her mother’s affairs and her father’s duels. Also Augusta’s brother does not have a good reputation prior to his death, but Augusta seems blind to that. I really wish she either acknowledged what a hot mess her family was, or someone just said it to her.
The flow for this one was actually pretty good. The story moves along at a good pace (one of the reasons why I gave this 3.5 stars) but there are some issues here and there. And I did enjoy the aspect of Harry being a widow with a daughter. Meredith was a nice side character to have, and all of her interactions with Augusta were so good. I wanted more of her with Augusta and also with Harry just being a family. She pretty much disappears at the end of the book which sucked, especially because we know a member of Harry’s household is gone for good and I wanted to know who was in charge of Meredith’s education now.
I read this for Romance Book Bingo 2017 and read this for the Historical Romance square. For those looking for a book to fit the key to my heart square, due to the cover for Rendezvous, this book would fit for that as well.