Be still my heart! This book sucks you in from the first line and doesn’t let go. It has everything! There are dastardly smugglers, slimy suitors, pitch-black caves, explosions, snappy banter, equally strong lead characters, fantastic supporting characters who will hopefully have their own books, a family feud to rival the Hatfields and McCoys, and an enemies-to-lovers romance that is wonderful.
The Davies and Montgomery families have been feuding for hundreds of years – and it all began with a pig – or a woman. Nobody is actually sure anymore; they just know they are enemies. These sworn enemies are neighbors even though the Davies’ estate is in Wales and the Montgomery’s estate is in England. Whatever the issue, they’ll choose opposite sides – even if it is in their best interest to be in agreement.
The Davies children – Gryff, Rhys, Morgan, and Carys – and the Montgomery children – Tristan, Maddie, and cousin Harriet – all grew up playing tricks on each other and taunting each other. The author has included nods to a number of old movies like Bringing Up Baby, as well as the snappy banter from Moonlighting. You will be laughing out loud at the descriptions of some of the things they did to each other when they were children. You’ll also give out a big heartfelt sigh when you read the story of the shawl.
Gryffud Llewellyn Davies returned from the Napoleonic wars as the new Earl of Powys because his father passed away while he was at war. He couldn’t even return for the funeral. He decided he’d spend time in London to relax and enjoy himself before returning to his country home – and that worked well until there was a duel and he decided it would be in his best interest to leave London. He really doesn’t want to be back at Trellech Court with its quiet boredom. The only thing he had to look forward to was annoying his neighbor. He wonders how much she’s changed in the three years he’s been gone. Of course, he firmly believed that “Spending time with her was the mental equivalent of beating himself over the head with a shovel.”
Madeline (Maddie) Montgomery has certainly followed Gryff’s exploits in London and is fully expecting that he will not be at the required annual meeting between the families. Hundreds of years ago, a king had gotten so tired of the feud between the families that he’d made an edict that required them to meet and shake hands each year at noon on the summer equinox. If one family doesn’t have a representative, the other family wins total ownership of a parcel of shared land. Maddie just knows this will be the year they get that land – and they really need it. But … then she sees the horse and rider …
I loved Maddie and Gryff together because they were absolutely perfect for each other. I loved seeing them come to realize that they really didn’t hate each other at all and never had. Their admiration for each other grew and grew as they worked to explore the caves, round up violent smugglers, thwart a slimy suitor – and save Maddie’s family from financial ruin. The book is non-stop excitement! I read it straight through because I just couldn’t put it down. It is a well-written set-up and introduction to what promises to be a wonderful new series.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.