(The Merridew Sisters, #1)
Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)
She ran from a brute…
Fleeing violent tyranny, Prudence Merridew escapes with her beautiful younger sisters to London. One of them must marry—and fast. To act as her sisters’ chaperone, Prudence invents a secret engagement to a reclusive duke…But when the duke arrives unexpectedly in London, she needs his help to avert disaster.
…into the arms of a rake
Aristocratic Gideon, handsome, rakish and with a strong frivolous streak, casually hijacks Prudence’s game, awarding himself a stolen kiss or three along the way. Used to managing sisters and elderly men, Prudence is completely out of her depth with a charming, devious and utterly irresistible rake. And her plot goes terribly—if deliciously—awry…
Wonderful, witty and romantic, I loved the first book in this series and it certainly won’t be my last Anne Gracie. She writes with a great insight and understanding of human nature and, notwithstanding the darker elements of this story, this is a beautifully written, charming and extremely humorous love story.
The Merridew sisters have escaped their tyrannical grandfather after years of physical and mental abuse. Their goal is to marry off Charity, the second eldest of these delightful siblings. Prudence has always been the surrogate mother of the family after the tragic death of their beloved parents. She was the one who suffered the worst treatment at the hands of their grandfather leaving her self-esteem is at an all-time low. The reason she was the main butt of her grandfather’s cruelty becomes clear later in the story.
Prudence embroils herself in all sorts of scrapes trying to explain the appearance of her family in London. They arrive at the home of their great uncle Oswald, the younger brother of their grandfather, who is the antithesis of his brother, being kindly, loving and eccentric. He immediately agrees to launch the eldest two girls into society, but he is a stickler for propriety and will not allow Charity to appear until her elder sister is ‘fired off’. Prudence has her own reasons for not wanting to be married and devises a scam involving Edward, Duke of Dinstable, a man she has never met. Feeling safe from the duke, who hasn’t been seen in society for many years, she tells her uncle they have been secretly engaged for more than four years. Disaster strikes when the said duke arrives in town and Prudence must somehow stop her Uncle from calling on him to persuade him ‘to do the honourable thing’! Her problems only snowball from this point on.
The comedy of errors continues when Prudence arrives at Edward’s home to explain and beg for his complicity in her lie and to assure him she is not attempting to trap him into marriage. Unwittingly she explains to the wrong man and Edward’s cousin, Gideon, a rake and confirmed bachelor, is highly and comically amused, and utterly captivated by the plucky little Prudence. He sees a beauty, invisible to most, and there follows a brilliantly funny interchange between these two characters talking at cross purposes. Prudence does not realise she is not talking to Edward and Gideon very quickly realises what is happening and ruthlessly exploits the situation, initiating her into the joys of kissing.
The rest of the story follows at a fast pace with some sad, poignant moments but also some hilariously uproarious interactions between Gideon and Prudence, whom he renames ‘Imp’ deciding her name is totally inadequate to her nature; he much prefers ‘Imprudence’. There is also a comical and entertaining scene between Gideon and great uncle Oswald where Gideon unwittingly becomes betrothed to Prudence. However, not unhappy about the situation, Gideon does his best to make it fact. His complete and utter belief in Prudence’s beauty – the phrase “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” comes to mind – and his fear that every other man will try to take her away from him is endearingly sweet and funny and proves that this rake has fallen completely under her, albeit unintentional, spell. He becomes her champion and protector whether she wishes it or not. Gideon has his own demons to slay but in the process of falling heavily for his Prudence his strong loveable and honourable character emerges, in short, Gideon is the perfect hero.
5 plus stars for a wonderfully funny, sad but poignant read. This is pure entertainment and Gideon is one of those heroes I will not forget.
REVIEW RATING: STELLAR 5/5 STARS
SENSUALITY RATING: WARM
The Merridew Sisters series (click on the book cover for more details):