Ella Quinn’s bachelors are clever, charismatic—and determined to remain single. Yet one by one, they find that fate—and certain irresistible women—cast doubt on even the best laid plans…
Haunted by her past, Lady Caroline Martindale fled England for the solace of her godmother’s palazzo in Venice. But if Caro was hoping to escape the charms of marriage-minded men, she’s come to the wrong place. And she’ll resort to extreme measures to spurn the advances of a dangerously determined Venetian marquis…
Though most of his friends have married off, Gervais, Earl of Huntley, remains bent on eluding the parson’s mousetrap. But his convictions begin to falter when he arrives in Venice and meets his match in the alluring Lady Caro. What began as a hastily concocted lie to save her from the marquis may become a chance for them both to relinquish their fear—and embrace what they can no longer deny…
Lady Caro & Huntley
This was definitely NOT Love at first sight.
Huntley ran from all thoughts of love and marriage.
Caro, tormented by the memory of a brutal rape that had stolen any hope for a future marriage, avoids all men like the plague.
Thus, there is none of the normal flirtation/attraction one expects at first. Instead, we get to know the frustrations and thoughts of each. While many authors would have rushed through this phase, Ella Quinn gave her characters the time they required to change their frame of mind.
I count three villains in this book. The rapist, the marquis who is determined to have Caro, and his powerful ancient grandfather who has no sense of right or wrong, only that of seemliness to guide him. Thus, he allows the marquis far too much excess in his behavior.
While, I don’t label him a villain, I think very poorly of Caro’s father who attempted to marry her to a rapist. Had he made any inquiries he could have learned of the man’s evil tendencies and kept his daughter safe.
So I am pleased he had no say in her marriage to Huntley. But then, neither did Caro nor Huntley.
Discovered to be traveling together without proper chaperons, when the marquis, whom they ran from, finds them, a minister who knows Huntley declares them married, then makes it so once the villain leaves.
Thus, the two start their lives out on shaky, loveless grounds. But with such too fabulous people, soon a mutual respect grows, kindness ensues, and love forms.
Even when Huntley teaches her sex can be most pleasant, neither feel safe enough to admit their growing love aloud. Thus, the opportunity for misunderstanding is ripe and nearly rips them apart.
To balance this frustrating relationship, Ella gives us a second couple who falls in love at first sight. She also provides a valid reasons how it could be so. This added romance came just in time, because the other relationship was really starting to frustrate me. While Caro and Huntley refused to speak honestly about their feelings, each pretending not to care, Horatio and John, being a bit older and more experienced, were forthright for the most part. (Each held back some secrets, but never their attraction to one another.) So I enjoyed their romance a great deal.
The ending felt a bit rushed to me, but that could be because I didn’t want to let the characters go yet.
While Lady Serena remains my favorite in this series, I thoroughly enjoyed this book immensely and give it 5 stars.