(Scandalous Seasons, #6)
Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)
Responsible, practical Miss Hermione Rogers, has been crafting stories as the notorious Mr. Michael Michaelmas and selling them for a meager wage to support her siblings. The only real way to ensure her family’s ruinous debts are paid, however, is to marry. Tall, thin, and plain, she has no expectation of success. In London for her first Season she seizes the chance to write the tale of a brooding duke. In her research, she finds Sebastian Fitzhugh, the 5th Duke of Mallen, who unfortunately is perfectly affable, charming, and so nicely… configured… he takes her breath away. He lacks all the character traits she needs for her story, but alas, any duke will have to do.
Sebastian Fitzhugh, the 5th Duke of Mallen has been deceived so many times during the high-stakes game of courtship, he’s lost faith in society women. Yet, after a chance encounter with Hermione, he finds himself intrigued. Not a woman he’d normally consider beautiful, the young lady’s practical bent, her forthright nature and her tendency to turn up in the oddest places has his interests… roused. He’d like to trust her, he’d like to do a whole lot more with her too, but should he?
I love Christi Caldwell’s books. She always enchants me with stories that are full of warmth, emotion, poignancy, laughter and romance and this, the final book in her Scandalous Seasons series, is no exception.
It is refreshing to have a heroine who is not perfect in every way. Hermione is plain, rail thin with slightly crooked teeth and is generally regarded as a bluestocking. After her mother dies, her father withdraws into himself, neglecting his family, and Hermione willingly takes on the role of both parent and protector to her siblings. I loved the selfless way she puts her siblings’ welfare before her own. Her father’s mismanagement of their finances has left them facing financial ruin and Hermione gallantly tries to keep the family afloat and retain her own independence with her payments from writing Gothic novels. However, she knows that the only solution to their situation is for her to travel to London and find a wealthy husband.
Although I am a huge fan of all those brooding, tormented heroes, I adored Sebastian. He is charming, clever and kind with a sense of humour as well. However, he does take his ducal duties seriously, having had the precepts of responsibility, commitment, and honour instilled into him from an early age by his father. He is fully aware of his duty to provide an heir but, deep down longs for a marriage based on love rather than duty. He longs to find a woman who sees him as a person and not simply a title.
It is obvious that Ms Caldwell has very much drawn on her own personal experiences in writing this book and it gives the story real emotional depth. I could relate to Hermione in so many ways. She has to cope with unforeseen, life-changing events and I’m sure many of us have had similar experiences; I know I have. Above all, this is a story of love, hope and family.
The romance is perfectly paced… a lovely blend of tenderness, passion, heartbreak and humour. Here are a few of my favourite moments:
Something about her commanded his notice, demanded his attention, if for no other reason than to understand the intense glint in her eyes and whatever the hell it was she marked down on that card.
She was Hermione, so very different than any other lady to come before her. Not mercenary or title-grasping, she was the first woman to see him and see… a man. Not the title. Or duke. Or gads of wealth. Simply Sebastian.
“Men don’t woolgather. I don’t woolgather.” Dukes certainly did not woolgather. They were contemplative, quite rational gentlemen who didn’t think overly long about unimpressed lithe young ladies with… Oh, for Christ’s sake. “I’ve business to see to,” he lied.
In a matter of days, a handful of meetings, three stolen kisses, and a Gothic novel, Sebastian had given his heart to a woman he barely knew.
“It is for you, Hermione. I told you I wanted all of you. I want the aggravating parts, the loyal parts; I want your smile and laugh. I want Mr. Michaelmas.”
The secondary characters are so well-drawn. I loved Adeline ( Addie), Hermione’s 11 year old sister, and the interactions between these two were delightful. Her brother Hugh’s attitude annoyed me at times but it was obvious that he was only being protective of Hermione. I loved seeing how strong the family bond was between the siblings. I clapped my hands with glee when the ruthless, scheming Aunt Agatha gets her marching orders. Sebastian’s sister Emmeline and her husband Drake (from Forever Betrothed, Never the Bride) are on hand to provide timely words of advice to our hero and heroine and I also loved the addendum to the Epilogue.
MY VERDICT: An enchanting finale to a truly delightful series. Highly recommended.
REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS
SENSUALITY RATING: WARM
Read August 2015