After the last book in this series, Don’t You Dare, My Dear, in which Edith presented herself as a total and complete hoyden, with a tendency toward petulance and impulsiveness, I cannot believe that I found her character in this book so strong and inspiring. She learned from her mistakes, and although she still demonstrates passion, she has developed the ability to temper her impulsiveness with careful consideration. This is due, in large part, to Griffin, soon-to-be Marquess of Hartfield (since his wicked father is at death’s door, and honestly, cannot die soon enough).
The family dynamics in this book are fascinating. Edith has 5 overbearing, arrogant brothers, and a father who shaped them to be the men they are. Edith lost her mother when she was quite young, as her mother died in childbirth, about to give birth to child number seven, who also died. Griffin observes that Edith’s brothers, whom Edith long ago dubbed The Brutes, and her father, the Earl of Westgrove, have little use for Edith and disregard her feelings and opinions. Really, they only seem to notice her when she disappoints them or disagrees with them. He immediately feels a kinship and an undeniable need to protect her.
Griffin adores his mother and despises his father, a despicable man who has never shown any sense of caring for either of them. He is a rake through and through, and Griffin’s older brother wasn’t much better; he died prematurely from participating in a curricle race. Now, his father is dying from the pox and seems just as bitter and manipulative as ever. He threatens Griffin that he must find a woman to marry immediately. He has determined Edith is unsuitable as a candidate, even though he’s fairly certain he could develop feelings for her. He decides he must find a sensible and respectable wife to rehabilitate the family line that his father so thoroughly destroyed.
But Edith is absolutely irresistible. She must fight against his unwillingness to allow passion to enter his life because of his fear of ending up like his father and brother. She assures him that can never happen because he’s nothing like them.
It is such a sweet love story, two people lost, drifting, searching for happiness and approval, both unlikely to get it from their families. Ultimately, they both realize that the men in Edith’s family love her but are incapable of seeing past the fact that she is a woman and must be treated as less-than because of her gender. And Griffin realizes that he needs no one’s approval and Edith makes him happy. There were some wonderful quotes sprinkled throughout this book—in fact, many—but I can only share a few.
Edith is a gifted musician and Griffin discreetly observes her playing the pianoforte. He thinks, “No one else played with such precision and passion. Two things that should have dueled with one another instead of becoming companions, as they did when her fingers fit against the keys.”
Edith’s heart is always way out in front of her logic and she can feel herself falling for Griffin even though he has told her he cannot love her (he’s lying, of course). “Another heartbreak glowed on the horizon as obvious as the storm crackling across it yesterday. And she could not help herself from taking footstep after footstep closer to it. She must hate happiness.” And this is another great description of her feelings. “Every star in the night sky glowed ten times brighter, cascaded through colors stars are not usually known for, and fell to earth, landing in her own chest. She swallowed the star-colored feeling…”
Because holding the key to someone’s heart is such a cliche, I loved this alternative. “He locked his eyes with hers. He might as well have thrown away the key.”
And I loved that Devon and Lillian (Kiss or Dare) made an appearance. Ever the flirt with a droll sense of humor, he responds to Edith’s declaration that she is to marry the Marquess of Hartfield by discreetly trying to ask about her betrothed’s accident. She explains that was Griffin’s older, deceased brother, and he responds by saying, “Ah. Excellent. Lively women deserve live husbands…”
I think the imagery and other poetic touches make this an outstanding book and one of my favorites from Charlie Lane (so far). It’s sweet and it kinda made my heart melt just a little bit.