Rating: A- ... Heat: Sweet/Warm
What kind of trouble can ten young ladies and gentlemen snowed in at a Scottish castle get into? Well, when the party includes a duke, an earl, a French comte, and a highland laird, the answer is: quite a lot.
Four young ladies, one by accident, and a duke, by coincidence, are kidnapped from a winter ball by Taran Ferguson, laird of Finovair castle, in hopes of matching three of said young ladies with his two nephews. Trapped at the castle for at least three days, many many hijinks ensue.
We first meet Catriona Burns, a gently bred young lady who, unfortunately, comes from a poor family. Which is why kidnapper extraordinaire, Taran, is surprised to see her get out of the getaway carriage. He wanted heiresses for his two nephews, which immediately disqualifies Catriona. Also there by coincidence is the Duke of Bretton, John Shevington, who was asleep in his carriage when it was `borrowed' for the kidnapping. Finding themselves not part of the planned match making, Catriona and John find amusement with each other.
Part one was full of wit and humor--really, it's Julia Quinn doing what she does best. Cute and sweet with a dash of fun. I loved every single second of Catriona and John's flirty and fun banter. It put a constant smile on my face, which is why I wasn't ready for it to end! Oh, sure, it's wrapped up nicely, but... I wanted more of Catriona and John! Much more.
Next we meet Fiona Chrisholm--a bespectacled heiress with a less than stellar reputation. And, when compared to her half sister, Marilla, Fiona doesn't expect to be noticed. But Byron Wotton, an Earl and the nephew of Taran Ferguson, can't help but see the bookish and fiery redhead. Byron is... a bit tetchy. Grouchy and stuffy for someone his age. And Fiona can rile him up like no other!
Part two took me by surprise. Eloisa James always manages to pack such a punch in her novellas, I really shouldn't have been surprised that I invested so much in both Byron and Fiona. But who can blame me? Byron was such a fuddy-duddy that you can't help but smile every time he says or does something particularly fuddy-duddy-ish. And Fiona's heartbreaking (and unfortunately sort of hilarious) fall from grace years earlier only endeared me to her more.
Lastly comes Cecily, a quiet but determined young lady. Unlike our previous couples, Cecily is not willing to let the man choose her. She is going to choose the man. And she has set her hat upon Robin Parles, Comte and Taran's nephew and heir. With a bad reputation as a rake, somewhat deserved but mostly not, Robin doesn't feel he deserves Cecily. So it's up to her to convince him otherwise!
I love the role reversals of part three. It was great to see the lady be the pursuer, even if poor Robin was less than thrilled. I haven't previously read anything by Connie Brockway, but I enjoyed her writing immensely. There was an understated, quiet humor to both Cecily and Robin--I particularly enjoyed the image of poor Cecily stuffing bed drapes down the front of her borrowed dresses to maintain her modesty (the busts were much too spacious)!
If you are a fan of love at first sight romances, A Lady Most Willing is definitely for you! I love the idea of a novel in three parts--not quite an anthology, not really a novel, but something entirely unique. And so, so fun to read. Truly, I loved reading three different author's voices tell us three different tales set in the same time and place. Just... magical. And refreshing.