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Persuading Prudence by Liz Cole
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Jul 29, 2011

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Only in Regency England could a 26 year old woman be called a spinster and be considered "on the shelf" by those who managed England's marriage mart. Having had only one season and spent party after party gracing the wall as an invisible person, Prudence has made her choice to wear frumpy clothes that are too big for her, wear her gorgeous hair in a severe, uncomplimentary style, keep her attentions to herself and spend her days visiting museums and reading books of note. She is an orphan but the daughter of a baron, so Lady Prudence is certainly accepted in the ton even though she has chosen to remain invisible and hidden. She is now living in the home of her second cousin, the Countess whose step-son is now the present Earl. She enjoys the Countess and her other cousin Amanda, married to a viscount and mother of a beautiful son. Their summer journey to Bath has taken a surprising turn: Amanda has reason to return early to London, leaving Prudence and the Earl to return together several days later. It was the night that Amanda was gone, Pru was sleeping peacefully and, for the first time ever, sleeping nude because of the summer heat, when the Earl--several "sheets to the wind"--enters her chamber, disrobes completely, climbs naked into her bed, and makes love to her, thinking she is his mistress. Boy he really was drunk!! Now what is a spinster to do? Exactly what Pru decided to do: go along and make a memory. The upshot? Pru is no longer a virgin, and the Earl is "caught on the point of his own petard--he realizes his fateful error, knows what he has done to Pru, determines to do right by her, and is given the "set-down" of his life.

This is where the tongue-in-cheek kind of humor that I love in Regency romances comes to the fore. Kolton, Lord Ravensbrook, is not to be thwarted and he begins to see an intelligent, thinking, strong-minded, clear-headed, witty woman behind the dowdy gowns and awful hairdo. Never thinking love is necessary, he nevertheless begins to realize that he wants to be very good friends with this woman and that they can make a very good marriage together, so he sets about to seduce her in the only way he knows how: continuing to compromise her to the degree that she will agree to his suit. Their experience in his hunting cabin is simply delightful--the witticisms, the verbal sparring, the hot loving, her awareness that this is indeed the man about whom she has cherished a secret crush all these years, his growing awareness of her inner beauty and his determination to get her to see herself as she really is--all this and more make this a compelling read that will hold the interest of just about any historical romance fan.

Prudence is indeed a caterpiller who becomes a butterfly, and the amazement of the ton as they become aware that this incomparable beauty was right there under their noses from the first is wonderful to experience. But there is evil afoot and just when it appears that Pru and Kolton are home free--their life is just about to begin in the best way possible, danger and evil do their worst and a crisis intervenes in their happiness. While this may seem like a classic Regency and perhaps it is, yet there is the sense that one is not just re-reading an old formula and all will be well. Ms Cole teases this situation out in such a way that the reader absolutely must read on in order to resolve the crisis. And, indeed, it is resolved but in unexpected ways that keep the narrative and story fresh and interesting. I don't think historical romance readers will want to miss this book. It is one of those stories I was so pleased to have been given the chance to read. I think you will like it, too.

I give it a rating of 4.5 out of 5.

This review was originally posted on Book Binge by Judith.
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