Published on October 31, 2017 by St. Martin's Paperbacks
Genres: Adult, Historical Romance, Romance
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He would do anything to protect her. Even marry her…
The son of a cold-hearted duke, Nicholas St. Mauer isn’t one to involve himself in society…or open his own heart to anyone. But driven by honor, the reclusive Earl of Somerton feels obliged to keep a watchful eye on Lady Emma Cavensham. She possesses a penchant for passions unbecoming a woman that finds Nick in constant peril of losing his well-structured solitude. She even dared kiss Nick once―an utterly unladylike, and delightful, lapse…
Emma can’t deny the appeal of the earl’s attention, and occasional affection, but she has no need for a man. There are worse fates than spinsterhood, as Emma knows too well. She still mourns the loss of her dear friend Lena, and is determined to prove Lena’s husband responsible for her death before he lures another innocent woman into a brutal marriage. But as Emma pursues her prey, a compromising moment upends all her plans. Now, with gossip swirling and her reputation in tatters, Nick may be the only man brave enough to join in Emma’s cause. . .and fight for her heart.
A bit of time has passed since the events of The Bad Luck Bride but a few familiar faces return as the story focuses in on Emma Cavensham. All she wants is independence in a world that doesn’t really offer that option to women. And Nick St. Mauer just wants to never feel something because it only leads to pain.
What worked with these two is their early friendship. The first couple chapters show a couple of moments in their past before the story starts several years after. It was necessary for the romance to work, at least for me, because if those chapters hadn’t been included, it would’ve been all sorts of weird insta-love. But keeping their friendship in mind, I actually really liked their relationship.
Yet it started to take over. You’re probably wondering how the romance could take over a romance novel and normally it wouldn’t matter. Except. . . the central point of the story beyond the lust and love is that Emma’s friend was abused and murdered, and she rightfully wants the man who did it brought to justice. It drives her actions for much of the story and puts her in a number of dangerous situations where our hero, Nick, is able to come swooping in to save the day. That part I’m not mad about because I really liked Nick’s character.
What wasn’t working so well was where the sex scenes played out. Instead of drawing them in where they fell naturally in the story, they felt shoved and forced to fit. To be honest, I wanted more of the soft, intimate scenes between Nick and Emma, where it’s less about the physical attraction and more the emotion behind their actions. Nick comforting Emma or buying her the book she’d been willing to do anything to get. Emma supporting Nick in his business ventures instead of preparing for his father’s name. Those scenes held so much more power. And weren’t as overpowering to the main story. The justice for Emma’s friend started taking the back seat and I liked the book less and less because of it. If you’re going to introduce something as strong as domestic violence, I want to see that followed through with and I think it wasn’t quite realized in full here.
I loved that Emma was not only a bookworm but would go to great lengths to find the book she wanted. She’s passionate about her cause — financial independence for women — and her own independence rings true rather than exaggerated. Nick’s back story is honestly just plain sad and you couldn’t help but feel for him. And even when he’s angry, he never lashed out at Emma or acted the jerk. His honor was everything to him because it’s all he really had of his family and he followed his conscious time and again. They were both well written and I wish I could have had more of them.
As a whole, I really enjoyed this friends-to-lovers romance and I’d say it was an improvement on the first book as well so I’ll be looking out for book 3!