Barbara’s rating: 3.5/4 of 5 stars
Series: Diamonds In The Rough #7
Publication Date: 5/25/21
Period: Georgian – 1821
Number of Pages: 359
Charlotte Russell is many things – the daughter of a Viscount; a spinster with no desire to EVER marry; very lovely; and, she’s also a bestselling author of risqué adventure stories. Oh! What an occupation for a gently reared unmarried lady. It is a good thing she keeps that part of her life very, very secret. On one of her secret trips to her publisher – which is in a rather unsavory part of town – she is held at knifepoint and robbed. Being a decisive, forthright, no-nonsense lady, she immediately sets out to hire herself a bodyguard. Where does one find big brutes one can hire to guard one’s person. Well, Charlotte’s immediate thought was of The Black Swan because it had once been the domain of Carlton Guthrie (The Forgotten Duke). Charlotte’s arrival at The Black Swan was an eventful one – she had to convince a fatuous male that he shouldn’t try taking liberties with her. Her actions impressed the tavern owner and he agreed to take on the job of bodyguard since it paid well and was only something he’d have to do on occasion.
Blayne MacNeil is a man with two secret pasts – the one everyone thinks he is hiding – and the really secret one nobody knows he’s hiding. That really secret one could get him hanged even after twenty years. After twenty years of saving and preparing, Blayne is almost to the point where he can fulfill his dream. Yes, that big, brawny, handsome man wants to grow things – his office is filled with pots of plants and he longs to be able to purchase a small plot of land with a cottage so he can grow all he likes. When a very lovely and determined lady appears in The Black Swan seeking a bodyguard, the money she is offering can’t be refused. Goodness – how much trouble could one petite lady be?
That very same evening, Charlotte’s life is totally turned upside down by an announcement made by her father. Not one to sit idly by while disaster strikes her, Charlotte quickly devises a plan to thwart her fate – and, of course, she drags Blayne right into the middle of it. Of course, since she doesn’t know his real secret, she has no idea what she is asking of him.
I very much liked Charlotte and Blayne – I liked them together and separately. Charlotte is one of the most loyal and steadfast heroines I’ve ever read and I admired her for that. Blayne is so very honorable, supportive, and protective – and will sacrifice everything to protect Charlotte.
Another thing I liked was the amount of time for the relationship to develop. It seems that in most romances the couple meets one day and three days later they are married and expecting their first child. Well, maybe it isn’t quite that fast, but it is close. This author didn’t cover every minute of every day, but she included statements like “three days later” or “two weeks later” so we’d know time had passed and the couple had spent time together, but it wasn’t necessarily chronicled.
I’m giving this book 3.5 stars – rounded up to 4 because I didn’t really care for the solution to Blayne’s past. With just a couple of small tweaks, this story could have easily been a 5-star read for me. I don’t feel Blayne got what he deserved – what should have been his by rights. Yes, they got their HEA, but … Anyway, the solution just left me dissatisfied even with the heroic efforts Charlotte put into it. Just to mention – I read an ARC of the book and I’m hoping the many inconsistencies, etc. will be fixed prior to release.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.