Series: The Disreputable Debutantes
Publication Date: 8/25/20
Number of Pages: 320
My favorite book of the series so far! I absolutely loved both Olivia and Hamish in this beauty and the beast tale. She is sweet, giving, and has a heart as wide as all England. He is dour, cantankerous, standoffish, and holds himself away from others. The story is well written, well-plotted, and the pacing is excellent. A thoroughly enjoyable read.
We’ve learned of orphaned Olivia de Vere’s trials with her misbegotten uncle and his family over the previous two books. The only bright spot in her existence is her time she manages to steal with her friends Charlie, Sophie (How to Catch a Wicked Viscount), and Arabella (How to Catch an Errant Earl). They don’t ridicule her because of her stammer – they just love her for who she is.
Things are getting very tense at the de Vere household. Olivia’s twenty-first birthday is rapidly approaching and her guardians – her aunt and uncle – are pressuring her more and more to marry their son Felix to keep her fortune within the family. They constantly denigrate her and assure that she knows she isn’t good enough to receive any other offers. Felix is a cruel, mean-spirited, profligate who taunts Olivia at every turn. When she discovers that Felix has been embezzling from her trust fund, he threatens her in a way that lets her know she has to flee – the sooner the better. Lucky for her, the opportunity presents itself and she grabs it.
Hamish MacQueen, Marquess of Sleat, has a scarred face from Waterloo, but most of his scars are from much earlier in his life and they are on the inside. Hamish knows he can never love or marry – or even become close with anyone because he’ll only harm them. He’s a violent person who can’t be trusted not to hurt those for whom he cares. At least, that is his view of himself. Those who know him, know he is a kind, giving person who always ‘saves’ others. So, when he needs to get back to the Isle of Skye to save his sister – and at the same time a lovely three-year-old little girl is dropped off on his doorstep – he leaps at the offer from the girl who lives next door. She’ll travel with him to Scotland and be nursemaid to young Tilda – who might – or might not – be Hamish’s illegitimate offspring.
When circumstances along the road cause Hamish to offer a marriage of convenience to Olivia, she accepts. She wants a real marriage, but he insists they’ll only stay married until her twenty-fifth birthday when she comes into her inheritance. That is quite a bitter pill to swallow for romantic Olivia who wants the whole thing – love, marriage, family – all of it.
I loved how Olivia slowly figures Hamish out and does her best to help him – even if he won’t give their marriage a chance. She has long admired him and it didn’t take much to tip her over to loving him. He also finds that he loves her, but he cannot let himself act on it – he has to protect her.
I loved their journey into their HEA. This would easily have been a 5-star read for me – except – it committed one of my cardinal sins. The villains of the piece got away totally free – actually they got rewarded. They had spent years abusing Olivia, demeaning her, ridiculing her, threatening her – and they get rewarded by Olivia and Hamish. No, I don’t think so!
I voluntarily read and reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.