Book 4: I’ve Got Your Number
This one was a lot of fun (and a lot of running away cringing - I don’t deal well with secondhand embarrassment). Poppy Wyatt is about to get married to a man she hasn’t known for very long, but she’s over the moon. Except for the fact that his family are all complete geniuses and she feels like an unwanted idiot around them. Oh, and she’s just lost her engagement ring - a priceless family heirloom.
During the search for her ring, her phone is stolen, and in another random coincidence, she spots a phone in a bin and takes it. It belonged to the ex-PA of Sam Roxton, who’s pretty high up in a consulting firm. Poppy convinces him to let her hold onto the phone, and through receiving, forwarding and snooping through his correspondence, she gets to know him. And the pair of them turn each others’ worlds inside out.
This is very much a rom-com in book form, but it’s a fun romp, clever, with a rather thrilling corporate intrigue subplot and plenty of room for the characters to examine each others’ shortcomings, their own shortcomings, and those of the people around them.
Book 5: Ruined by a Rake
Yes, I know. Groan at that title. I was actually expecting a much different breed of 'bad' from this book than what I got.
Eleanor Abbington is twenty-four years old and has very firmly decided that she doesn’t want to get married. She saw from her (now dead) parents’ abusive marriage just how marrying, especially for social/political gain, can ruin a woman’s life, and she relishes her independence. However, her uncle, the head of the family, has decided that he wants her married to further his political agendas. She has three options, basically: choose one of the three men he’s pointed out of her own volition (all old and boring, some of whom remind her of her father), have one chosen for her, or he can bring her impressionable seventeen-year-old sister home and have her married off.
And then her uncle’s step-son, Nicolas, returns home from his stint in the army. Eleanor and her family seem to have always lived with the uncle, and the uncle re-married when she was nine and Nick was seven. Nick and Eleanor have always had this Beatrice-Benedick sort of relationship - all sparring, all the time, with Eleanor at least barely able to admit that she’s sort of fond of him. (Nick, on the other hand, has been in love/lust with her forever).
This novella was such a frustrating experience for me. Somehow I got really invested in Eleanor and Nick as characters almost straight off. Emma was unexpected: a Regency heroine who genuinely doesn’t want to marry! Who’s not naive and has seen the nasty side of marriage! And Nick was unexpected as well - yes, rakish and muscular and handsome, but during the bits narrated by him, we see he has issues of his own, an insecurity he hides behind his brashness. Surely, I thought, we can slowly break through the sparring and find some real connection; surely, we won’t have a rushed-into, guaranteed happy ending.
I think there is nothing so aggravating as experiencing a story and sticking with it because you see those seeds of potential and so desperately want them to play out, but instead it just gets more and more trite and undeveloped and just plain crap.
I suppose in a sense I get what I paid for, but still. Ugh. The potential.