Olivia Donovan expects nothing from life but to become a spinster and live among her sisters. A childhood bout of malaria has left her with frequent fevers and her sisters worry over her constantly. She doesn't expect any man to take a chance on a woman with poor health -- one that may not even be able to have children. But that doesn't mean she can't appreciate the looks of a handsome man when she sees it.
Max is certainly a handsome man. When he first noticed Olivia at a London ball, he was instantly smitten. He even accepted a hunting invitation from her brother in law to get close to her. And the two of them get along famously. It's clear they are made for one another, but they create problems for themselves. Both swear they will never marry: Olivia, because of her illness. Max's reasons are much murkier. His dad treated his mom poorly and he doesn't want to ever hurt a woman that way --or some ridiculous nonsense.
Even worse than Max's "reasons" for bachelorhood, was an inane bet he made with an acquaintance at the very beginning of the book. You know, one of those "gentlemen's bets" over who could get Olivia in the sack. Which means that you know from the Prologue that the bet will kick them in the teeth just as soon as they fall in love. And it does. Fortunately, there is more to the story after that... namely, some danger from the smarmy man on the other end of the bet. But while I believed in the threat Fenwicke presented, he was a pretty one dimensional villain.
Despite my complaints, I did like both main characters. It was a gentle romance. It wasn't rushed and I found it believable. Plus, the sex was good.
This is the second story in the Donovan Sisters series. And I think I enjoyed it more having read Confessions of an Improper Bride
. References were made to the events of that book which were not fully explained... and while new readers could still enjoy the story, they'll likely realize they were missing something. I didn't like this installment quite as much as the first one, but I do plan to keep reading, in hopes that the missing sister Meg will one day come back for her happy ending. 3 1/2 stars. *ARC Provided by NetGalley