Series: Ministry of Marriage #4
Genres: Historical Romance
Published by Penguin on 2 July 2013
Much like the Curate’s egg, there were parts that were excellent and other bits that left me cold. Hilary de Vere is used to discrimination because of her boorish family. She is fired from a ladies’ academy as their new patron doesn’t want a de Vere corrupting the girls. On her way home she comes across charming rogue Jonathon Westruther, Earl of Davenport. She decides to travel to London with him so she can have her very first season and hopefully find a respectable husband.
Hilary started out as a strong character – she could put Davenport in his place with ease (a good slap) and had the internal fortitude to cope with being constantly misjudged. Something horrible happened though and this wonderfully three dimensional character became passive, meek and waif-like in front of my eyes. She proves herself a true de Vere though as she falls into bed with Davenport fairly quickly and yet still hopes to snag a respectable husband at the end of the day.
The whole premise of the novel is that Davenport isn’t really a scoundrel yet he set about ruining Hilary “Honey” just because he could. There was some tragic incident from back when he was a chemist of all things that made him an unrepentant rake. His treatment of Hilary falls into the ‘not cool’ category simply because she was so innocent and her chaperone was so inattentive. He could have enjoyed the favours of every willing woman and I wouldn’t have batted an eyelid but in this case he came across as a slippery opportunist. Everyone who is anyone in society regards him with distain and he is happy to prove them right by brawling publically. He is supposed to be intelligent so I would have liked him to use his brain more often rather than always thinking with his other body parts. There are flashes of a deeper Davenport which I revelled in.
The plot revolved around getting Hilary accepted by society and so she could showcase her respectability during London’s season. I did appreciate the lengths that Davenport’s friends and family were willing to go to in order to help Hilary and the fact that they did get over their de Vere prejudice once they got to know her. From Davenport and Hilary’s initial meeting to their arrival in London is fairly implausible but worth rolling along with as Hilary shows some backbone.
This is a very character driven review as while I loved Hilary and Davenport at times, there were other instances when they just drove me batty. Just a random minor point but wasn’t Hilary a guy’s name back in this time in Britain?