I had never read Anne Stuart but my friend Luisa swears by her and since Luisa has never let me down I decided to bite the bullet and pick up something by Stuart. I also had the great pleasure of corresponding with this New England Author and discovered that we share a few hobbies outside the literary circle. Seems Stuart has a daughter into Anime, she enjoys j-rock (Japanese rock) and is also a quilter. All things we share in common. It's not everyday you encounter someone with all those quirks that also loves romance novels. So before opening one of her books, I was already a fan.
This book is one of her latest historicals. She doesn't write many of these and so I decided I'd go with something I was more comfortable with (historical romances). Historicals don't tend to be overwrought with a lot of subplots that might draw you away from the actual romance so they tend to be safe.
Christian Montcalm in line to inherit a viscountcy but it's a title without funds, so he is determined to marry an heiress. He has selected the daughter if shipping giant George Chipple. His daughter, Hetty, is vivacious, young and quiet beautiful. The only problem is that Mr. Chipple has asked Annelise Kempton to be her chaperone during this season, and Christian's reputation as a scoundrel and a rake has already preceded him.
Annelise Kempton is reaching 30 and has declared herself a spinster and unfortunately, she is a penniless spinster. Her father drank and gambled away the little money they had, so after his death she has been forced to become a guest at people's house (since she cannot really work for anyone, being the daughter of a baron). She is hoping that Mr. Chipple will be very grateful when his daughter marries into society and will give her enough to buy a small cottage and retire, from her visitations.
That is, until Montcalm declares he will have Hetty one way or another. Lots of undercurrents are taking place when it seems Hetty is not as determined to have him as we first think and Mr. Chipple is not as caring of a person as we first think either.
Although the actual love story between Christian and Annelise is fairly straight forward and in the same vein as most historicals, there was so many other things going on, it could easily become distracting (remember I said historicals are not typically overwrought with a lot of subplots... Hmm, need to keep those thoughts to myself in the future). This book reminded me a bit of that movie with Emma Thompson and Kenneth Branagh, Much Ado About Nothing. There was a villain, a secondary romance and then throw in an apple falling from a family tree thought to have been dead long ago. I easily could put this one down a few times but when I got back to it, I would read with gusto. So, this one is a bit difficult to grade.