The three previous novels in this series have introduced a panoply of characters that continue to play an important role in each succeeding novel. Fir...moreThe three previous novels in this series have introduced a panoply of characters that continue to play an important role in each succeeding novel. First and foremost, the women of The Rarest Bloom are each one, in their own right, the heroines of their own stories. All are women with a past, a euphemism often used in that historical time period for either a woman of questionable morality, or who had become disgraced by unwise social practices of one sort or another. Some were haunted by evils perpetrated against them by others, while others were hiding from spouses or relatives seeking to do them harm. Some were both haunted and hunted. Daphne Joyes has her own secrets and has opened her home to these women for whom society has no place. All of them together have entered into the flower business which brings in sufficient income to maintain their home and provide for their needs. It is a household free of men--at least that has been the case in the past until the Duke of Castleford shows up to examine the property which has been bequeathed to him by Daphne's former landlord. Being a distant relative of the now deceased landlord, Castleford assumes that the property was important because the tenant was one of the old duke's "soiled doves." He couldn't be more wrong, but Castleford, instantly desiring Daphne, determines that she is now fair game for him.
And so the romp begins . . . and Daphne is pulled into the machinations of Castleford, but she is no fool, either. Their encounters are full of humor and sexual tension, their attempts to outwit one another fascinating and in many ways endearing, their attraction growing and on Daphne's part it is unwanted on some levels but compelling in others. Castleford is enthralled with her but his behavior puzzles his friends because he appears to be changing the way he lives--something he has never, ever done before for an object of his lusts. Wanting to see how all this was resolved had me rushing from one page to the next. And then their Latham, a man who has been Castleford's best friend in the past and who is now the object of his derision, a man who has some hidden participation in Daphne's past and for whom she has only loathing. When no other aspect of their growing relationship seems to be bringing Daphne and Castleford together successfully, their mutual hatred of Latham appears to the one thing on which there is no disagreement. And Castleford comes to believe that Daphne, naked and clothed only in a king's ransom's worth of diamonds is a dangerous woman indeed.
This is a truly enticing historical romance, full of wit and winsome love scenes, characters that almost jump off the pages, and filled with the tidbits of living in this historical period which make such novels so interesting for historical romance fans. Hunter keeps the pressure on, keeps the reader involved in the story to such a degree that it was painful when I had to put the book down to go pick up a grandchild from school or take a granddaughter to her martial arts lesson. When I got home, I was back in my room with my nose in the book and it didn't come out until I was done. It was somewhat of a miracle that hubby got his dinner! It was delightful to become re-acquainted with characters that had populated the previous novels in this series, to read how their relationships were evolving sort of as an epilogue to their stories, and to find them to be continuing their involvement with The Rarest Bloom. All in all, it is one of those books that I set aside to go back and re-read, revisiting characters that have become friends, and taking the time to savor the story, more the second time since I know how it all comes out but enjoying the way it plays out just the same.
I think historical romance fans will enjoy this book alot, and Hunter fans will not be disappointed. I give this book a rating of 4.5 out of 5.
I'm really enjoying Jeffries' Hellions of Halstead series. This latest installment was different in that the lady didn't want to be married, but the g...moreI'm really enjoying Jeffries' Hellions of Halstead series. This latest installment was different in that the lady didn't want to be married, but the gentleman did. I always love stories where the reluctant heroine needs to be wooed into a relationship by the besotted man.
Minerva Sharpe has wanted Giles for a long time, but he sees her as a child. Not only was she too young for him, but her older brothers made it clear she was off limits to the likes of him. Until her 19th birthday when they shared a kiss - one that rocked Giles and Minerva both. Determined to save her from himself, Giles says some nasty things to her. As a result, Minerva creates a villain in her novels based on Giles.
The problem is she uses real-life situations and since Giles really is a government agent, he needs her to stop before other people realize she's writing about him and get suspicious. The best way to make that happen? Marry her. The fact that he's in need of a wife, truly enjoys Minerva's company, and finds her extremely attractive is just icing on the cake. But of course he needs to convince her...
Minerva has seen what marriage can to do a person and knows it isn't for her. She's perfectly content to remain alone for the rest of her days, being the favorite aunt and writing novels. She doesn't want a husband who will dictate her life, or stop her from doing the things she loves. Giles is an enigma to her. She's vowed to hate him, but he makes it very difficult to stay angry with him. He seems to genuinely care for her, yet she knows that can't be so. Can it?
Giles was a bit of a surprise. Though it was alluded to in previous novels that he had more substance than we saw, it was still a shock to see him as an upstanding barrister rather than a playboy. He had a reputation as a wild man-about-town who gambled too much and spent a lot of time with the opposite sex. That wasn't truly who he was, he only played it up to keep his cover for his government work. Proving it to Minerva was difficult, but he persevered. It was good to see that his reputation wasn't just brushed aside. That was a major sticking point with Minerva and she didn't let him off the hook about it easily. At the same time, it was easy to see he cared for her and wanted to see her happy. I'm a sap for a man who truly wants his woman to be happy, even if that means making sacrifices in his own life to see it happen.
Minerva had every reason to want to remain single. She had a means to support herself through her writing and she'd have her freedom. She didn't expect Giles to intrigue her as much as he did. Though she was reluctant to enter into a marriage with him, she still took the time to get to know him. I liked that she didn't judge him solely on his past behavior, but agreed to consider the man he was when he was with her.
Giles' lack of trust in Minerva began to grate after awhile. It was understandable that he was concerned with what she'd put in her books early in the story, but as their relationship progressed and he came to know her better I thought that was a weak argument on his part. Similarly I was disappointed with the way Minerva brushed it aside as fairly minor once she found out. That should have been the major problem between them, not a minor side-issue.
That aside, this was a well told love story. I really enjoyed both Giles and Minerva as well as the full cast of secondary characters. With each story, the series just gets better.