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kellytwo "kellytwo" (cleveland hts, ohio)

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Winter Dreams
Winter Dreams
by Sandra Heath
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
26 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Multiple layers and textures make for spectacular reading!, July 6 2004
Layer upon layer upon layer: characterization, plot, setting. Some books one reads (or attempts to, at least) seem always to be missing one or more of these rather important elements. When you add in writing (and/or sometimes editing) skills-or the lack of them-finding a great book to read can be a task filled with mytery. Not so with the books of Sandra Heath, and in particular, her latest, Winter Dreams.
The story begins in Lisbon, Portugal during the Napoleonic wars, then travels to London and then to Cornwall. In addition to French spies and English espionage, there is a prima donna who could give Maria Callas lessons in the art of being one; brother/sister twins with a psychic connection; a ghost; an old love gone awry but come to life again-and a hero to die for.
This book has everything. Everything! It has mystery and atmosphere and adventure and a romance that transcends years and distances to reunite Judith Nicholls Callard with her first love, Daniel, Lord Penventon. Although marriage between the two had been long planned, the younger Judith had fallen for the practiced charm of another man, Robert Callard, only to be widowed when he fought a duel not quite a year before the opening of the story. She'd had no plans whatever to meet up with Daniel again, but had accompanied her twin, Jamie, on his government assignment to Lisbon.
Daniel is known to have been consorting with the celebrated opera star, Madame Bella Barnardi, who has also caught the eye of Napoleon, along with those of seemingly every other man on the face of the earth! She is as volatile as dynamite, whether on- or off-stage, and what she wants, she will have. Currently, she wants Daniel, and lures him to her side (with the help of the British government) by offering secret information of a very personal nature about and from Bonaparte.
Bella blackmails the British government, which then blackmails Daniel into cooperating with the singer, entirely against his wishes. Finally, he is able to convince the new Foreign Secretary to assist in a plot to trick the diva into divulging her secrets, rendering her threats useless, and freeing Daniel to pursue his love, Judith. Except for one small detail.
Fearful of Bella's vengeful nature and several previous attempts on her life (both in Lisbon, onboard ship sailing back to England, and then again in London) Judith has taken herself off to Cornwall, and Daniel is unable to find her for several weeks.
The resolution is fast and furious-and eminently satisfactory-as Bella gets her comeuppance, leaving Daniel and Judith to live happily ever after in mysterious Cornwall. This is a book to be read and re-read, over and over again. Purely marvelous!

Slight Change Of Plans
Slight Change Of Plans
by Glenda Garland
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
19 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Not just a romance --, April 29 2004
There have been more than a few books bearing the category title of Romance published lately that combine other elements with the romance. A SLIGHT CHANGE OF PLANS is one of the better examples of this trend, mixing a strong mystery plot along with a good bit of village life into the plot. I'd not read anything by this author previously, but will willingly read her other books.
One forgets sometimes about the deadly effects of village gossip on the inhabitants of such a small geographical area, in the days before radio, television or telephone. Many a reputation was totally ruined by word-of-mouth, whether made-up or factual stories.
If I had to find a quibble here, it might be that Penelope comes across as just too good and nice and sweet. Too nearly perfect. Of course, the cover is another problem, but that one isn't the author's fault!
Neither of those comments should discourage any reader, however. This really is an excellent, well-written, interesting and enjoyable tale of everyday life in a small village and the surrounding areas, where an unlikeable man meets an untimely death, and what happens next to his family and his neighbors, in an attempt to find out who was responsible.

Until You Re Mine
Until You Re Mine
by Lisa Higdon
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
21 used & new from CDN$ 0.20

5.0 out of 5 stars Everything a book should be!, March 13 2004
Whispering campaigns can be devastating to anyone, much less a politician. Sound familiar? Well, the technique is hardly new-Shakespeare utilized the tactic in Othello nearly four hundred years ago.
When Julian Norcliff, Earl of Lockwood, became the target of nasty innuendoes regarding his sexual preferences, his secretary Malcolm (himself rumored to be one of those preferences!) devises a scheme to shut up the whisperers. The Earl could hardly take a wife-he already had one, although she was in Italy and he was in England. Their marriage of convenience barely lasted through the ceremony before circumstances separated them. Since then, Julian had kept himself busy with his estates and Parliament. Now though, he'd have to try another tactic.
Laura Lancaster was a struggling young actress who found herself stranded in England, the war of 1812 keeping her away from her home country of America. She'd been visiting her mother in Paris, but fled to avoid a rather forceful would-be suitor. She was determined to support herself, rather than doing as the rest of the actresses did, becoming the mistress of a wealthy, usually titled gentleman. Her friend Celia Carteret was blissfully happy with her Lord Belgrave, but Laura just couldn't think that solution right for her.
Until a slightly different solution was created by Malcolm, one that would benefit both parties. Lockwood's money would furnish a small house and provide suitable clothing for Laura, who would appear with him in public, pretending to be his mistress. Privately, however, they would be merely acquaintances, not lovers. It was to be hoped gossip about them would kill the rumors.
This short plot summary barely begins to cover the entire story, but whatever a reader wants from a book will most likely be found here in this truly delightful concoction. There is romance, to be sure, along with history, and a mystery involving charges of treason, murder and other unpleasantness. The author travels skillfully from Seven Dials to Mayfair to Shadowhurst (the Earl's country estate) with descriptions that will make you feel you're there, as well. Although categorized as 'historical romance' which it certainly is, the book has a decided Regency flavor to it as well, unusual in such longer works.
I'd not read anything by this author before, but I do hope she continues writing about the Regency period. Actually, I liked this book so much I read it a second time! Might there be a story about Julian's younger brother, Randal? One can but hope. One can also hope that when the year's best books are listed in various places for various reasons, UNTIL YOU'RE MINE will be at the top of those lists. It certainly deserves to be there!

Fine Feathers And The Makeshift Marriage
Fine Feathers And The Makeshift Marriage
by Sandra Heath
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
23 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Twenty years of excellence ==, Feb. 21 2004
Since their very first such release, I've been a big fan of the Signet Regency two-fers, or two books in one volume. Most of them have been re-issues of very popular stories from the past, sometimes of two different authors, sometimes two stories by the same author. This new edition, however, with two stories by Sandra Heath, takes the previous concept one betterï¿one old 'beloved' story (indeed!) and one new one. What a perfectly splendid idea.
A successful Regency novel may have many ingredients. Among the plot elements are: love at first sight, love unrequited, marriage of convenience, mistaken identity, wealthy marrying not-so-wealthy (either sex in each category) and titled personage marrying a commoner. Necessary characters are a handsome hero, a winsome heroine, a charming pair of secondary characters, of the same sterling quality as the main pair, and at least one villain or villainness of superlatively menacing manner. A pet or two certainly adds to the mix. Finally, the writing must be better than good, preferably careful to the times depicted, free of anachronisms, and hopefully with an abundance of wit.
It's hardly a secret that I find these quantities to be present in the works of many of today's authors, but most especially prevalent in the works of Sandra Heath. Her newest title, FINE FEATHERS, is no exception, and neither is the older bookï¿THE MAKESHIFT MARRIAGEï¿that Signet has paired with it as their current two-fer. (I love this concept: I hope it continues forever!)
The two Miss Marriots in the first storyï¿cousins Margaret (known as Molly) and Delphineï¿provide nothing but trouble for the twelfth Earl of Bardolph, Rupert Drysden, and believe me, no one is more deserving of such a fate. Eventually, after a near-kidnapping, an unsuccessful switch of look-alike racehorses, and a severe caseï¿or twoï¿of mistaken identity, all ends well. The Earl is vanquished and indeed banished from England by the cleverness of the hero Hal Cordrey, a widower and wealthy landowner, as well as magistrate for the area. The wealthy marquess ends up with Margaret, while Delphine secures the love of her life, Neville Botting, curate of Coln Cordray.
Set in Gloucestershire, in and around the then famous Bibury Club Races at Seven Downs, the lush June setting comes alive by the wondrous descriptive passages by the author.
THE MAKESHIFT MARRIAGE, on the other hand, is much more complex (as well as nearly twice as long) and demonstrates in very subtle fashion, the consistency of the author in writing style, research and character development. First published twenty years ago, The Makeshift Marriage has remained atop the favorites list of many devoted Regency readers, which is no mystery whatever. Whether reading it again, or for the first time, the story is satisfying in every possible way.
When Miss Laura Milbanke splurges her entire small inheritance for a dream trip to Venice, she has no idea that her life will take a drastic turn-about. She'd seen a picture of the famous Hotel Contarini, and had dreamt of little else since then. Anticipating a lifetime of boring service, she believes the trip will provide dreams enough for a lifetime. In short order, she meets two gentlemen: the Englishman Sir Nicholas Grenville, and the Austrian Baron Frederick von Marienfeld. After Laura spurns his advances, the Baron challenges Nicholas to a duel. In spite of her protests, Nicholas proceeds, and is later brought back to the hotel, nearing death.
Even though he is certain to die, Nicholas asks Laura to marry him, and somewhat reluctantly, she agrees. However, Laura is a faithful and caring nurse, and so they return to England and his Somerset estate, King's Cliff.
While Laura had traveled to Venice to live out a dream, Nicholas traveled to get away from his home, and ponder the necessity of killing a dream. For centuries, King's Cliff has been an opulent host to royalty and other aristocrats; ruinously so. Now, if the estate is to continue at all, severe changes must be made, and unable to think clearly at home, he'd come to Venice to think.
With the care of Daniel Tregarron, the local physician-as well as an old friend-Nicholas slowly gains back his health, only to discover even more dangerï¿in his own household. More in love with the house than its new owner, his former fianceé, Augustine Townsend, has no patience with illness or anything that comes between her and her dreams. She flitters between Nicholas and his heir, who is also his cousin, James, the earl of Landford, who has his own dreams.
If you like terrific plotting, excellent writing, and perceptive character development, all combined with descriptions that take you to the very scene, you'll certainly enjoy THE MAKESHIFT MARRIAGE. It's a classic for all time.

The Affair of the 39 Cufflinks: An Inspector Wilkins Mystery
The Affair of the 39 Cufflinks: An Inspector Wilkins Mystery
by James Anderson PH.
Edition: Hardcover
17 used & new from CDN$ 2.77

5.0 out of 5 stars Oh, joy! They're back! The Burfords, that is . . ., Dec 13 2003
39 is a strangely provocative number. One of the great mystery/suspense classics of all time is "The Thirty-Nine Steps" by John Buchan. And then, one must also consider the great comedian, Jack Benny, who, having arrived at the age of 39, liked it so much, he stayed there for the next 39+ years, bless his heart.
James Anderson has once again adroitly combined mystery with comedy in his newest British country houseparty mystery novel, "The Affair of the 39 Cufflinks". Even after such a long hiatus from the first two books in the series-some twenty years or so-this one never misses a beat, picking up where the others left off-at Alderley, of course.
Alderley is a 17th Century Westshire stately home in the days when a stately home was still the family home; in this case the Earl and Countess of Burford (George and Lavinia) and their rather flapperish and head-strong daughter, Gerry.
Having suffered from 'unfortunate incidents' during two previous houseparties, the Earl is understandably hesitant to host any more such gatherings, but the death of an elderly cousin-by-marriage-the Honourable Mrs. Florrie Saunders-forces his hand. She is to be buried at Alderley, and as all the principal mourners are mentioned in her will, there is almost no way for them not to be invited to the house for a brief time afterwards.
Of course, plans are always made to go astray, and so they do. Clara, daughter-in-law of the deceased takes exception to the will, and declares her intention to reveal the secrets she knows about those present. She has, after all, been making a tidy living for herself using such tactics for some time now. Before she can do so, however, she is found in her bed. Murdered. Scattered around the floor of her room are-39 cufflinks. Why are they there? What do they mean? And why 39?
Fortunately for the Earl (and for the readers) Detective Chief Inspector Wilkins is assigned to the case, and carefully, painstakingly, he and his minions set out to resolve the riddle of the cufflinks. In the best tradition of the country house murder, each guest is thought to be the guilty one, only to be declared 'improbable' or 'incapable' or 'otherwise occupied' at the time in question, in spite of the finally-revealed 'secrets'.
Among the guests (a wonderfully eccentric stereotypical gathering) are Agatha and Dorothy, the step-daughters of the murdered Clara, and granddaughters of Florrie, plus four great nephews, one great niece and two great-great nieces. Among them are an MP, a King's Counsel and his empty-headed but beautiful blonde daughter, a Jeevesian type young man about town, reduced to selling motorcars to earn a living, a fashion editor from New York, come home to London to make her way, and of course-the Burfords, complete with butler, Merryweather.
Gracefully written, this intricately plotted homage to the two great doyennes of British mystery-Christie and Sayers-will tickle your funny-bone while engaging your little grey cells in this entertaining romp. We can but hope that the author will not make us wait so many years for our next visit to the wonderful Alderley.

Jumping Through Clouds: Surviving a Son's First Jump Skydiving Death
Jumping Through Clouds: Surviving a Son's First Jump Skydiving Death
by Jane Melbourne
Edition: Paperback
Price: CDN$ 16.27
16 used & new from CDN$ 1.18

4.0 out of 5 stars Should be required reading before jumping --, Oct. 22 2003
"Aw, Mom, nuthin's gonna happen!"
How many mothers have heard that phrase? How many young persons have the attitude of "It won't/can't happen to me?" Nevertheless, human bodies are frail and subject to breakage, sometimes with only a minimum of force being exerted on them. And mothers continue to suffer because of this inherent frailty. The death of a child-a child at any age-is without question the highest hurdle ever presented to a parent.
One such parent is Jane Melbourne, whose son Jim was always a daredevil-type young man, until at the age of 29, he took up sky-diving. Unfortunately, his very first jump was Jim's last such adventure. His mother, in her grief, while searching for answers, found very few that made sense to her, and so she dug deeper, ever deeper. What she discovered is the basis for this book, which describes the flight and dive that took her son from her, as well as what came after.
Among her first discoveries was the fact that sky-diving was almost totally unregulated by any government agency. Jumpers were required to provide their own health insurance coverage, and to sign a tough, tight waiver that obligated the novice jumper to 100% of the risk, and the experienced trainer to no risk whatever. Jumpers were also required to swear that they were over the age of 18 years, but proof was not always required.
With the help of friends, both hers and her son's, Melbourne set out to change that oversight. To her surprise, she also discovered that there were other bereaved families out there; parents who had also lost a child on the first jump. First jumps are several times more likely to end in fatality than later jumps. But because of the lack of regulations, there was no way for these bereaved parents or siblings to find each other, except by coincidence.
The practice of 'jumping through clouds' is prohibited by common sense, because the jumper cannot see anything, anywhere, but yet that is the feeling that assailed Melbourne and the other families. Details of those fatal flights were not immediately forthcoming, and so closure was an even more difficult process than usual.
All Melbourne wanted was better and more comprehensive instruction for sky-diving students, plus some way to rate the safety of various jumping fields. The military has almost no fatalities for new jumpers, but their training is extremely extensive before ever taking to the air. Hard as it might have been for her and the other bereaved parents, at no time did she--or they--even begin to suggest banning jumping. In their generosity, all they wanted was better education for the jumper before that first jump.
Although Melbourne was successful in gathering legislative support in several states, eventually her campaign faltered and faded, faced as it was by the vast, intensive support and lobbying from the various support magazines (most notably 'Parachutist' and 'Skydiving') and various skydiving organizations.
Ten years later, she readily admits that she obsessed over the details, but she can hardly be blamed for doing so; she merely wanted to know what had happened to her son, and why. Her lament at losing a child readily explains her actions. "I didn't have a spare."
Melbourne is unflinchingly honest, displaying warts and all in her struggle to make this movement safer for everyone involved. One could wish she had been more successful in her quest. This is a book that should be required reading for anyone who even thinks of indulging in such a dangerous challenge. One can hardly call it a sport after reading this very fair, well-researched, heart-felt book.

Duel Of Hearts
Duel Of Hearts
by Diane Farr
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
29 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Immovable object/irresistible force --, July 23 2003
Fifty-some years ago, a hilariously bickering couple, appropriately named 'The Bickersons' (John and Blanche) made their debut as part of a radio show. They were so funny (as played by Don Ameche and Frances Langford) that they soon acquired a series of their own, and eventually even made it to TV. They were sarcastic and mettlesome, never fearing to go for the jugular, but yet they were never really-completely-mean-spirited. They always kissed and made up by the end of the segment.
I was reminded of them, over and over, while reading this book. And yes-it also brought back memories of the classic Kate Hepburn/Spencer Tracy movies as well. Two attractive and exceedingly confident people who KNEW they were right, never even considering otherwise, they were at the same time, lovers par excellence! They acknowledged the magnetic attraction between them, yet never seeming to quite understand it all.
Lilah and Drake are wonderfully drawn, completely alive characters who are totally dumbstruck by whatever has happened to them, especially as they have had no prior experience upon which to draw. They both knew exactly the type of mate best suited for them, and it certainly is not this! Why, they don't even much like each other, except-why can't they keep away from each other? Why do they always seem to be touching or kissing? It's enough to astonish anyone, let alone the ones to whom it's happening.
I don't believe I've laughed so hard at a book in years and years, and I hated to come to the end of this one. I would happily had read another 342 pages of these two charming people and their wonderment at the situation in which they find themselves. It is greatly to be hoped that the author will find a way to include them as at least minor characters in her future books, just so we may keep an eye on the Regency version of the Bickersons -- the Earl and Countess of Drakesley.

Drusillas Downfall
Drusillas Downfall
by Emily Hendrickson
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
21 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars A house-party story -- with a twist!, July 11 2003
While the books of Emily Hendrickson have been consistently popular throughout the years, I must admit that they've not always been among my favorites. Certainly, her research cannot be faulted; one could spend many futile hours searching for an anachronism to pop up in one of her books. They are entirely accurate as to time and place and costume and speech, and the reader always knows where and when the story is set. These are elements I find essential in the enjoyment of a Regency novel, but yet, they aren't quite enough in themselves for complete enjoyment of a book.
This book, however, was a very pleasant surprise: I truly enjoyed every minute of it. It seemed to have more of a life of its own, perhaps, than her previous books. And, too, the main characters created more sparks than usual, it seemed to me.
When I was growing up, the preacher's kids were always the biggest hell-raisers in town. And while the heroine here, Miss Drusilla Herbert isn't exactly in that category, she's certainly no meek little mouse, either. Not by a long shot! She's smart, sensible, kind-hearted, and very out-spoken, when it seems appropriate, and perhaps sometimes when it isn't quite. She's a charmer, through and through.
As one of six children (of a parish rector, to be sure) she's learned tolerance along with her other skills and attributes, and when the Marchioness of Brentford (a schoolfriend of Drusilla's mother) needs a companion while recuperating from an illness, Drusilla would seem to fill the bill admirably. Off she goes to Brentford Court.
In London, meanwhile, Adrian, the current Marquess, hears tales of his mother's house party and new companion, which rub him entirely the wrong way. How dare his mother be having parties if she's supposed to be ill? And just who is this companion anyway? She needn't think she'll benefit in any way from tending his mother. Oh, no! He'll go home and straighten this matter out in short order, send the companion packing, and then be able to resume his active life in town once again.
Adrian's good friend, Lord Ives, joins the house-party as does the woman Adrian's mother thinks could just make a good next marchioness, the Lady Felicia Tait. There are also several older folks including Lord Osman, who's taken quite a shine to the current marchioness.
From their first meeting, the sparks fly between Adrian and Drusilla, much to the surprise of both of them. He thinks she's an interfering and meddlesome minx, and she thinks he's an uncaring town beau. Her tart tongue sets him straight as to his mother, but he still harbors doubts about Drusilla. She begins to wonder if her earlier assessment of him was correct, after all. Of course, she's hardly a suitable match for him, but then, there is Lord Ives who at least seems to appreciate her. Until he is drawn more and more to Lady Felicia.
This is the premise of this delightful house-party book, which departs from the norm with its cast of supporting characters, and a neat twist in the plot before all is revealed. We end up with not just one happy match, but three!

A Prize for Princes
A Prize for Princes
by Rex Stout
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
26 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

1.0 out of 5 stars More like ersatz Stout --, June 20 2003
Yes, indeed, there are times when reading an early, possibly previously unknown or unpublished work by a favorite established author can be a joyous reading experience. Not so in this particular case, however. This one should have died aborning.
To be sure, anything written by Rex Stout cannot be other than gracefully written, while exhibiting a thorough knowledge of the setting and any other details necessary to the plot. This IS well-written, and as far as I can tell, an accurate recreation of the period of 1914, just before the outbreak of World War I, when there were still myriad little princedoms scattered about Europe, each with their own Prince. Or Duke, perhaps, although here we have a prince.
We have also a Mata Hari type who quite defies description! And a TSTL male lead character. (That means 'too stupid to live' for the uninitiated.) There is an ingenue, and a quite nice young diplomat and a villain who isn't really, plus the aforementioned prince.
Richard Stetton, a wealthy young American afflicted with wanderlust happens on a riot in Fasilica, wherever that is in middle Europe, somewhere, more near the Orient and Asia than the continental areas with which we're more familiar, such as France, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, and so forth. When he sees the out-of-control troops attack a convent, he rushes to assist anyone he can find. Thus he meets up with a devastatingly beautiful blonde, Aline Solini and her younger, orphaned friend, Vivi Janvour. Better he had run in the opposite direction several hours earlier. But he didn't, and for the next 300+ pages, the reader is treated to the impossible, the improbable, and the unbelievable.
Frankly, I cannot believe that Rex Stout approved this venture--having the 25 chapters put into book form, rather than being spread out over several months in the telling. Perhaps if one were to read it, one chapter per week, it would be more palatable and less laughable. It won't tarnish Stout's brilliant reputation, except to those who've never read the Nero Wolfe books. What a pity if it should discourage anyone from reading those books or the short stories or novellas about Nero and Archie and their cohorts, which are entirely splendid.
This effort, however, reeks of an attempt by someone to generate income using the defenseless author who died several years ago, and is no longer able to defend himself from such nefarious schemes.

The Fortune Hunter
The Fortune Hunter
by Diane Farr
Edition: Mass Market Paperback
27 used & new from CDN$ 0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars A reader's great fortune!, May 31 2003
Some people only want to get where they're going--in a BIG hurry--so they'll even jump on the interstate for just a few blocks. They could care less what scenery there may be or what they might be missing in the process. It's "hurry up, already. Let's get there!"
Others prefer to meander along, taking their time, savoring the view from here or there, and yes--smelling the roses. Either method is perfectly valid, depending on a lot of variables.
But -- The Fortune Hunter is not for people in a hurry. No way. It needs--deserves--to be read slowly, and savored, word by word. Scene by scene. If you gallop through this book, you'll miss 90% of the lovely humorous bantering between George, Baron Rival and Olivia, Lady Fairfax. And what a shame that would be. These two use words, even in the most casual of circumstances, in ways that would put any other two fictional lovers totally to shame. Delicious is the only word to describe this wordplay.
So what if there is no explicit love scene? Excuse me? This book is nothing if not nearly one long continuous love scene! Who needs explicit, when there is the most erotic yet innocent seduction imaginable in chapter twelve? The pages themselves produce steam as George removes one of Olivia's gloves. Only a glove! And then there is chapter twenty-one. Oh, my stars and garters! This is writing of the very highest quality, perfectly matched by two delightful, fully developed characters in a plot full of twists and turns. In short, this is a masterpiece.
Poor Lord Rival (in more ways than one!) must marry an heiress if he is to restore his ancestral holdings. In order to accomplish this, he has carefully made up a list of the most eligible women who matched that description. The elusive, enigmatic Lady Olivia Fairfax was at the very top of the list. Only problem was, he'd never seen the lady, and neither had anyone else he knew. But then, he discovered someone who had seen her. After many weekly bouts of cribbage with this elderly gentleman, before Rival even had a chance to propose a possible meeting, the man died, leaving Rival back at square one. But maybe not, as Rival is called in for the reading of the will. And of course, so is Olivia. Sparks fly in all directions, and the chase is on!
During most of history, once a man and woman married (each other) he owned her, and she was his to do with as he wished, up to and including spending her entire fortune any way he wished, or even beating her so severely she could easily die from the injuries. Of course, she could not have the same freedoms, oh, no. It's no wonder that independent, wealthy Olivia chose not to marry, considering the men with whom she was the most familiar--her father and half-brother--were this brutal sort. As if to demonstrate this unhappy side of marriage even more clearly, the author uses Olivia's half-brother's brutalities against his wife, Edith, to back-up Olivia's decision to remain unwed. It's a perfectly brilliant metaphor.
But all that was before Lord Rival came on the scene. Sometimes, others know us better than we know ourselves. When that happens, it's just so much easier to capitulate and let someone else make the decisions. Especially when those decisions are the ones we most wish we could make.
Since many of the other reviews have gone into great detail about the plot, another such is not really necessary. Just read this book slowly, and give it the time it needs to breathe. Like the very best of fine wine, it sparkles and bubbles with great vivacity. Sip slowly and enjoy!

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