Tracy’s rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Series: First Comes Love, #3
Release Date: April 27, 2021
Five years after the death of her beloved husband Stewart, Brina Feld is more certain than ever that she will never remarry, but she concedes that it might be time to start living again, which is how she came to meet Zane Browning, the Earl of Blacknight. While attending a masked ball in Paris and attempting to escape the attentions of a drunk rake, Brina ducks into a room to hide and finds Zane tied to a chair. He tells her to untie him and after a bit of amusing banter, she releases him so he can go rescue his cousin, but before he goes, Zane gives Brina a kiss she will not soon forget!
Months later, Zane is back in London and taking up the reins of the earldom he never expected to inherit, when he sees his mystery woman. He quickly learns who she is and decides then and there that she is his future countess. He proceeds to place a bet that she will accept his proposal of marriage by midnight at the last ball of the season.
Brina is secretly thrilled to be reunited with Zane, but horrified that he has placed a bet – she has no desire to remarry and decides to beat him at his own game, by publicly agreeing to marry him IF he can stop drinking, gambling, swearing, and womanizing, if he can’t (and she is sure he won’t), she will accept his apology on the night of the final ball. Let the games begin!
Of the three books in the series, I liked this one the best. I have read all three books about the widows of the Salty Dove and have not been overly excited by any of them – the idea was good, but I just never really got sucked into any of the stories. The writing is fine, I do question some of the author’s “rules of proper etiquette” as some of them completely contradict anything I have ever read in other books – including Jane Austen. However, Zane was a wonderful hero and I thoroughly enjoyed his interactions with Brina and his family – he was just about perfect and a delight to read. The story has a lot going on, it touches on a lot of emotions like grief, mourning, anger, and guilt, it has cameos from the previous heroes and heroines, it has love scenes that are mostly kissing and barely warm, and a sweet ending that was perfectly done. This was the final book in the series, but it could easily be read as a standalone title with no problems.
*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an eARC that I requested and was provided to me by NetGalley and the publisher. All opinions in this review are my own. *