I have always enjoyed Isobel Carr's League of Second Sons series, but I really had trouble connecting with this one. It got better for me as the story progressed. The first half, though, just didn't reel me in.
The story follows Lady Olivia as she struggles to overcome the social stigma of finding out her marriage was invalid. She had no idea she had married a bigamist --she followed all of society's rules-- but she is considered damaged goods, nonetheless. She still has her beauty and a hefty dowry, and her father is pushing her back into society.
In a drunken stupor, Roland Devere sends her a scandalous proposition, and Olivia is smart enough to turn his insult to her advantage. She tells his family and hers that he has proposed marriage. He knows that if he exposes the lie, she'll produce the letter. They make the deal to front a phony engagement long enough to insulate her from the ton, then she'll call it off and retire to the country. Of course, in their time together, the ruse becomes a reality.
The two are attracted to each other right off the bat. And Devere is set on getting Olivia into bed. But one of the first problems I had with the book is how many liberties she allows him early on. As much as she is determined not to be with him, she acquiesces to some mighty big physical advances, over and over again. Then she goes back to acting like there is nothing between them. It just didn't ring true.
I found that really preferred the secondary romance between Olivia's father, Phillip, and Devere's sister, Margo. That one kept me guessing and I thought their exchanges were both genuine and very, very sexy.
Like I said, the book did improve for me in the second half, especially once there was some actual conflict between Olivia and Devere --and the author began really pulling the threads of the book together. But the main romance never really bowled me over. I just didn't get the same pull or dynamic from them that I got from Phillip and Margo. Those two saved the story for me.
Rating: C+*ARC Provided by Forever via NetGalley