I'm taking a quick break from my adventures at RT to do a book I read while I was there.
Why this one: I’ve met Sherry a few times now at conferences/conventions and she’s such a great person. I have all her books though as yet some unread. When I saw this one in the goodie room at RT, I started glancing right and left to make sure it wasn’t a mistake and then grabbed real quick before someone could take them away.
Steam Level: Oh yes, it was nice and toasty
Blurb: Elissande Edgerton is a desperate woman, a virtual prisoner in the home of her tyrannical uncle. Only through marriage can she claim the freedom she craves. But how to catch the perfect man?
Lord Vere is used to baiting irresistible traps. As a secret agent for the government, he’s tracked down some of the most devious criminals in London, all the while maintaining his cover as one of Society’s most harmless—and idiotic—bachelors. But nothing can prepare him for the scandal of being ensnared by Elissande.
Forced into a marriage of convenience, Elissande and Vere are each about to discover they’re not the only one with a hidden agenda. With seduction their only weapon against each other—and a dark secret from the past endangering both their lives—can they learn to trust each other even as they surrender to a passion that won’t be denied?
My Thoughts: One of the reasons I’m having a hard time remembering some of the stuff at RT is because I spent time reading – a lot of time reading considering I was at a conference, even though it was a book conference. I would go and find places to read as I didn’t want to put this one down and there were a few events I may have skipped so I could read.
This is one of those books where the characters are more than they seem and as the story goes along, slowly, layer after layer, their true selves are revealed. Jo Goodman excels at this and so does Sherry Thomas.
First off the hero, Lord Vere is not at all what he appears to others. To them he is an idiot, blathering on about nonsense, a clumsy, muddled, albeit handsome oaf whose fall from a horse tragically altered his former personality.
Then there is the heroine, Elissande Edgerton who was taken in by her aunt and uncle when her parents died. Despite giving up her own life to care for her ailing aunt, she still smiles brightly when she is forced to offer up to home to neighbours suffering from a rat infestation.
But neither Vere nor Elissande are what they appear to be; instead they are both multi-layered characters with their own agendas.
Where to begin? It would almost be easy to dislike Elissande in her deviousness and plotting except that we see inside her and her desperation in saving herself and even more, her aunt from a monster. She will do whatever it takes to rescue the both of them even going as far as trapping one of her unexpected guests into marriage. She originally settles on Vere, but it doesn’t take long for her to see Vere for the idiot he pretends to be and switch her scheming to his brother. But Vere is onto her – he thinks – and he ends up being her victim. I found Elissande to be a fascinating character. And as her character is unwrapped, she’s a lot softer and vulnerable than we think
Vere is an equally intriguing character and even more layered than Elissande. For years he has lived the character he had developed to hide his real personality so he can work cases for the Crown. As everyone believes he’s a bumbling fool, they don’t notice when he stumbles into some interesting places. He is initially very attracted to Elissande but he is fooled by her public persona and quickly realizes she is willing to use him or his brother. And for her part, she also believes the ‘public’ face that everyone sees in Vere.
Watching these two interact with each other, despising who they think the other is, they slowly come to realize how much they have in common.
This is a Very Good and Compelling Book and I had the hardest time putting it down, even in the midst of a week long party.
Grade: 4.75 out of 5