Series: The Duke’s Daughters, #2
Release Date: February 27, 2018
Lady Olivia Howett wants to make everyone happy, she also hates injustice in any form, so she believes that she is the perfect woman to marry Lord Carson, the man her sister Eleanor was supposed to marry, and it doesn’t hurt that Olivia is in love with Bennett, Lord Carson. Convinced that marrying him is the perfect solution, she gets him alone and proposes. When he tells her that he is not interested, she is angry and humiliated. He leaves and she is ready to indulge in a good cry when someone in the back of the room speaks up.
Edward Wolcott is the acknowledged bastard son of financier Mr.Beechcroft and best friend to Bennett. He was in the room avoiding the snide remarks about his birth and the not so discreet snubs. He overheard the entire interlude with Olivia and Bennett and offers her some advice, when she asks who he is, she ends up insulting him and he leaves.
Later they meet again when she is trying to find her sister, Bennett introduces them, Edward offers to help her find her sister and Olivia apologizes, she asks if everyone snubs him and is upset to learn that they do. She decides that she can help him (after all helping is what she does best), and then Bennett will see how wonderful she is and realize that he should marry her.
When Edward gets home that night, his father tells him that he is ill and only has months to live. He wants to see Edward settled and accepted before he dies and makes him promise to find a suitable wife. Edward agrees to try. The next day Bennett asks him to distract Lady Olivia and turn her interest elsewhere. Edward doesn’t understand why Bennett is not as captivated by her as he is, but he agrees.
When Olivia sees Edward later, she launches her plan to help him. He confesses that he needs to find a bride and offers her a large donation to her favorite charity if she will help him.
Olivia dives into this project head first and make every effort to see Edward accepted. They spend time together and Olivia begins to doubt her feelings for Bennett, because she is attracted to Edward. Olivia loves spending time with Edward, for the first time in her life she is completely free to be herself and she likes it. She invites him and his father to dinner and hopes to further his social acceptance and find him a bride – a plan that isn’t nearly as appealing as it started out being.
When her mother humiliates her at dinner and she runs out, Edward comes to comfort her and she kisses him. Later she tries to remind herself that it is Bennett she loves and she is trying to find a wife for Edward, not marry him herself. When Edward announces that he is returning to the country with his father and says that he will send her the donation, she kisses him – again. He kisses her back and then tells her this is goodbye. Olivia doesn’t understand what she is feeling and she goes to see him and brings him a gift and collects the donation.
A week passes and Olivia admits that she misses him and that she is not in love with Bennett, but Edward is gone and she will most likely not see him again. She also begins to make some discoveries about herself. She is ashamed to realize that she doesn’t really listen to people and always assumes that she knows what is best for everyone. She wants to change and becomes closer to her twin. When her mother tells her that Bennett has invited them to the country and is sure that he is going to propose, Olivia isn’t sure how she feels or what she will do if Bennett does propose.
They arrive and learn that they are staying at Mr. Beechcroft’s home and not Bennett’s – Olivia is overjoyed to see Edward and when they are alone, sparks fly. Olivia returns to the others and finds her sister Pearl, she tells Pearl that she kissed him (again) and that she might love him. Pearl suggests she tell him how she feels. She makes a plan but is sidetracked when they visit the village, she saw some children and assumed they needed help and charged in to “save” them. Her efforts are not well received and she is humiliated. Edward comforts her as they walk back and tells her she needs to learn to ask if someone needs help, not just act like she knows what is best for everyone, she agrees. When rain threatens, they detour to a vacant shed and one thing leads to another – but before they go too far, she tells him they should marry and lists the reasons why it is a good idea. Edward takes offense and leaves her – he is incredibly sensitive about his birth and felt like she was taking pity on him. He loves her, but he can’t be with her.
Olivia is bewildered and doesn’t know what she did wrong, then realizes that while she listed all the benefits marriage would have for them both – she never told him how she feels about him. Her sisters urge her to speak to him and when they speak the misunderstanding is quickly resolved.
But Edward still has demons to conquer and Olivia has to stand up to her parents, who are ready to marry her off to Bennett.
This was an interesting story, not what I was expecting and not like any other Megan Frampton book I have ever read. The story moves at a quick pace and while there is definitely significant change in Olivia, I didn’t really see the same change in Edward. I don’t know exactly what I felt was missing from the story, but I didn’t feel like it was everything it could have been. The writing is good, the love scenes steamy, the conflicts don’t drag out and there is a very nice HEA. It is the second book in the series, but it can absolutely be read as a stand alone title.
*I am voluntarily leaving a review of an uncorrected eARC that was provided to me by Edelweiss and the publisher*