Publisher: Carina Press
Available on Amazon.com.
Thanks to NetGalley for the preview.
This is one of those books in which I cared a LOT more about the hero than the heroine. In fact, I kind of wanted the heroine to be miserable, lonely and left shriveled like a heap of wet towels. The only reason I cared one toenail about her happiness was if it made the hero happy. And since it did, I had to give a fiddler's fart about her scrawny ass.
Roxana is engaged to George Whitby, who basically is a cad and a scoundrel, only she's too stupid to see it. WE see it. Boy, do we. We know that he will break her heart, one way or another, and by golly, he does. They have been engaged for five years, during which she waited patiently for him to return from war. A few weeks after their engagement ball, he dumps her.
We aren't too sad about this, though, because (a) Roxana feels nothing - not one tiny flutter - when he kisses her (in fact, it could be argued that she feels revulsion) and (b) George's absence means Alex Ayersley has a chance. And Alex Ayersley, people, can KISS. When he (finally) kisses Roxana, she "grew so breathless she was sure she would faint. The whole world seemed to spin and tilt around her."
Alex, you see, has loved Roxana forever. He even tells her that he loves a woman, has loved her for years, and that she is the most beautiful, desirable woman he's ever met. Dumb Roxana doesn't realize he means HER, mostly because Alex is kind of socially constipated. He doesn't know how to make small talk, and he's perfectly content to sit in silence. In fact, prior to the kiss, the only thing that seems to stir his emotions is when he discusses politics and the law, specifically the time he witnessed an execution:
Ayersley, passionate? The incongruity of the thought almost made her laugh. A more mild-mannered man had never walked the earth - the dull dog, George called him. Yet Ayersley's tightly contained outrage just now had been unmistakable.
Shortly after the aborted engagement, Roxana's virtue is questioned by some who witnessed her rousing game of tonsil hockey with Alex. He proposes a solution to her wrecked reputation: let's get hitched.
Alas, Alex cannot figure out how to tell her the truth about his feelings for her, and Roxana is so stupid that she can't suss it out on her own. She puts herself into situations that cause him pain, and even though it's innocent (for the most part), and even though she does feel a little guilty, she can't be honest with him. Until, that is, Alex decides he can't take it any more and unleashes his frustration on her. Oh, faithful readers, it is a delightful castigation, and I cheered him on most happily.
Now, about the hotness. There are some decent sexy times scenes. Alex knows how to rock the headboard. Oh, yes, he does. He may seem restrained and polite, but underneath that dutiful exterior lies a dutiful exterior, if you know what I mean. And I hope you do. He knows how to please a woman, bless him. Not that Roxana deserves it, but whatever. There are not many sex scenes, which is unfortunate, because I'd love to know the full extent of Alex's prowess, but what's there is good. Not scorching, but good. All in all, this is a predictable romance featuring a hero you can cheer for.
Read this book, for Alex's sake. He deserves to be loved.