(Scandalous Seasons, #4)
Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)
Miss Juliet Marshville is spitting mad. With one guardian missing, and the other singularly uninterested in her fate, she is at the mercy of her wastrel brother who loses her beloved childhood home to a man known as Sin. Determined to reclaim control of Rosecliff Cottage and her own fate, Juliet arranges a meeting with the notorious rogue and demands the return of her property.
Jonathan Tidemore, 5th Earl of Sinclair, known to the ton as Sin, is exceptionally lucky in life and at the gaming tables. He has just one problem. Well…four, really. His incorrigible sisters have driven off yet another governess. This time, however, his mother demands he find an appropriate replacement.
When Miss Juliet Marshville boldly demands the return of her precious cottage, he takes advantage of his sudden good fortune and puts an offer to her; turn his sisters into proper English ladies, and he’ll return Rosecliff Cottage to Juliet’s possession.
Jonathan comes to appreciate Juliet’s spirit, courage, and clever wit, and decides to claim the fiery beauty as his mistress. Juliet, however, will be mistress for no man. Nor could she ever love a man who callously stole her home in a game of cards. As Jonathan begins to see Juliet as more than a spirited beauty to warm his bed, he realizes she could be a lady he could love the rest of his life, if only he can convince the proud Juliet that he’s worthy of her hand and heart.
I am so glad I discovered Christi Caldwell last year and she is fast becoming one of my favourite authors with her charming, tender love stories. Always a Rogue, Forever Her Love is easily read as a standalone but I can definitely recommend the first three books in this series.
Despite his roguish reputation, it is obvious how much Jonathan loves his mother and four sisters regardless of the trials and tribulations they present. His mother bemoans the fact that he will not “do right by the Sinclair line and wed a proper English miss” but he has no intention of curtailing his life of pleasure by taking a wife. His three youngest sisters are “outrageously ill-behaved and highly improper” and their latest governess (the fifth) has resigned. His mother is at her wit’s end and gives Jonathan the task of finding a new governess.
Juliet Marshville has been lame since she was thirteen when her leg was shattered in a fall. It was then that she discovered just how much her brother, Albert, hated her. He is a selfish wastrel who has denied Juliet a Season with the cruellest of words.
“It would be an utter waste of funds to launch a faulty ship like you off into a sea made of diamonds of the first water.”
Juliet is furious when she discovers that Albert has gambled away her beloved Rosecliff Cottage to the Earl of Sinclair. Not only that but he is pushing her to marry the loathsome Lord Williams…only he has something far less respectable in mind. She approaches the Earl of Sinclair determined to demand her cottage back. The earl agrees on condition she take up the position of governess to his sisters and shape them into “models of proper, English gentility.” As the cottage represents freedom from both her brother and the unwelcome advances of Lord Williams and a place to call her own, she accepts.
Despite everything that life has thrown at her, I loved Juliet’s indomitable spirit and loathed her cruel, heartless brother with a vengeance. It’s a shock to discover the true level of his hatred for his sister.
I enjoyed the battle of wills between Juliet and Jonathan’s sisters, Poppy, Penelope and Prudence. The three hoydens think to terrorize Juliet in the same way they did the other governesses, only to find she is made of sterner stuff.
Fortunately, she’d learned how to handle her wicked brother and his childish outbursts through the years. In fact, she’d wager her three charges combined could not even come close to Albert’s nastiness.
I enjoyed watching Juliet win over Poppy and Penelope with her kindness and patience.
From the moment they meet, I could feel the strong attraction between Jonathan and Juliet and, whenever they are together, sexual tension simmers just beneath the surface.
He lowered his brow to hers, his sapphire blue stare pierced her with its intensity. “Jonathan,” he demanded with all the authority of one accustomed to having his every desire met. “Say my name.”
“Jonathan,” she whispered, loving the feel of his name upon her lips, so utterly masculine and yet all the same, smooth as warmed chocolate.
He cupped her cheek. “Now tell me you still do not desire my kiss, Juliet?”
Jonathan’s admiration for Juliet’s courage in the face of adversity humbles him in a way that makes him take a good look at his own life. He sees a “smug, self-serving bastard” who could never be worthy of a woman of honour and integrity like Juliet. He doesn’t see his own worth as Juliet does; a loyal and loving brother, a dedicated son, a fair employer and a man who made her feel protected and cherished.
Of course the path of true love never runs smoothly and they have to overcome some stumbling blocks to attain their HEA, not least Jonathan’s misplaced honour. It takes some sage words from his little sister, Poppy, to make him see sense.
Poppy sighed and flung herself into a nearby leather-winged back chair. “I don’t like Jonathan. I preferred Sin. Why, Sin who would simply go and take back his Miss Marshville because he loved her and couldn’t live without her and didn’t care…”
Everyone who reads my reviews knows how much I love Epilogues and Ms Caldwell’s Epilogue is the delicious topping on an already scrumptious cake. I leave you with one final quote and its significance will become clear when you read the book.
“Under the stars, she whispered.”
MY VERDICT: Another captivating addition to this delightful series. Definitely recommended.
REVIEW RATING: 5/5 Stars
SENSUALITY RATING: WARM
Read May 2015
Scandalous Seasons series (click on the covers for more details):