(The Merridew Sisters, #1)
Genre: Historical Romance (Regency, 1816)
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…
**5 CAPTIVATING …”when a rake finally falls, he falls forever” STARS**
This was my first book by Anne Gracie and I will certainly be dipping into more of her books, based on how much I loved this one. It’s romantic, funny and full of characters who totally captured my heart. There are some darker moments, but they never overshadowed the lovely heart-warming feeling I had after I finished reading it.
How could anyone love such a wicked, funny, foolish man? How could they not?
Oh, Gideon is such a wonderful hero. Wickedly charming, amiable and flirtatious, he hides a vulnerable heart beneath his frivolous rakishness. A lonely, sad, loveless childhood has made him determined to embrace a carefree lifestyle, determined to show the world that he cares for nothing and no-one. He sees love as a weakness but that changes the moment he meets a certain Prudence Merridew!
I love how, when everyone else regards Prudence as plain, Gideon sees her as unique and beautiful.
“Plain! Is there something wrong with your eyes? She’s not the slightest bit plain! Those eyes, that smile, that hair— from top to toe, Prudence Merridew is a rare little gem!”
It is refreshing to see Gideon as the one falling hopelessly in love first and being open and honest about his feelings for Prudence. His kindness and thoughtfulness is so clearly revealed in the way he treats Grace, the youngest of the Merridew sisters, and how he brings joy back into all the sisters’ lives.
Prudence could have hugged him. Not since their parents had died had her sisters laughed and sung and giggled with such riotous glee.
It is chilling to read the abuse that Prudence and her four sisters suffered at the hands of their grandfather, a bitter, hate-filled old man, and discovering the true extent of his cruelty towards Prudence is truly heart-rending. Their plight seems more poignant knowing how different their lives had been before their parents died… filled with sunshine and laughter and love and happiness.
Prudence’s overwhelming love for her sisters shines through and she finds the strength, determination and courage to plan their escape from their grandfather’s clutches and find a safe haven with their caring Great-uncle Oswald. It tugged at my heartstrings when Prudence promises them that one day their lives will once more be filled with sunshine, laughter, love and happiness.
Gideon’s determination to win Prudence had me rooting for him all the way but Prudence’s misplaced loyalty to the pompous, mercenary Phillip Otterbury had me so frustrated. Luckily, as with any good romances, Phillip’s true colours are revealed. I love the scene where Gideon outmanoeuvres him with just wit alone.
I loved the kind-hearted Great-uncle Oswald, such a contrast to his brother, and the forceful Aunt Gussie who makes short shrift of Otterbury.
“I am morally responsible for this young lady, and I can see it will do her no good at all to be alone in your company. In fact, Mr. Ottertosh”— she rose from the sofa—“I think it is high time you departed. Shoebridge shall show you the way out.” She reached for the bellpull and yanked hard.
(Ottertosh is just one of various amusing names Otterbury gets called)
There is a sweet secondary romance between the Duke of Dinstable and Charity Merridew which is mostly played out off page and doesn’t detract from the main romance at all.
I love the humour which runs throughout the story and acts as a counterpoint to the darker moments. Here are a couple of my favourite humorous quotes…
“I would appreciate it if you would stop… stop… ogling me like that,” she hissed, tugging her very modest neckline higher. “It is very embarrassing.” She folded her arms across her breasts defensively.
“It wasn’t me”. He tried to look contrite. “It wasn’t me,” he confessed. “It was my eyes. They are bold and easily led and have no sense of propriety.’
“You mustn’t disdain the protection of a frippery shag bag and a medium-sized duke with a tendency to stoutness. We can be formidable fellows when we try, you know.”
MY VERDICT: A LOVELY GEM OF A BOOK AND HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS
SENSUALITY RATING: WARM
Read January 2016
The Merridew Sisters series (click on the book covers for more details):