Tracy’s rating: 3/3.5 of 5 stars
Series: A Matter of Temptation, #1
Release Date: June 28, 2022
Seven years ago, Miss Wilhelmina “Mina” Crawford, the only daughter of Viscount Crawford, was the toast of the ton, but a foolish infatuation and a subsequent ill-advised elopement to Scotland left her marred by scandal and ruined, ending all hopes for a HEA. But ruin hasn’t stopped Mina from expanding her mind or helping her brother manage their failing estate. So when her brother confides that he is to take part in a duel with their neighbor, Simon Loughton, the Earl of Creswick, Mina insists on taking his place, even going as far as to drug him. And not only does she manage to best the earl in the duel, but he quickly realizes who she is and offers her a position as his secretary.
Simon is brilliant and uses that brilliance to better the country, he is a well-respected politician and it is even whispered that he may one day be prime minister. He was intrigued when he was bested by Mina and even more so after realizing that she was a woman, prompting him to act out of character and hire her as his secretary. He quickly discovers that Mina is not just a pretty face, she is intelligent, funny, and brings balance to his life. He tells himself he must remain aloof and resist her charms but soon learns it is impossible and gives into temptation.
They become lovers, neither expecting anything more than an affair, but when love finds them, will they have a HEA or will Mina’s past scandal keep them apart.
I have mixed feelings about this book, on one hand, it is an interesting story and Simon is not your typical rakish hero (which was refreshing) and Mina is not your standard-issue “ruined maiden” – they both exceeded expectations and broke the stereotype. But on the other hand, the book had some historical mistakes that make parts of the story implausible, if not impossible. There was also a threat that seemed important, that completely fizzled out and seemingly got forgotten, which I found a bit bewildering. Then there is the twist at the end which opened up the angst floodgates – OMG – the book was chugging along and then I was hit with a revelation that changed the entire tone of the book and one that I was pissed about – in the end, all’s well that ends well – but I was still upset and felt betrayed by the author. I don’t want to spoil the book, but for me, there is an unforgivable plot twist and even though another twist sets things to rights, I was not happy, which ruined what seemed to be one of the most believable and beautiful soulmate-type love stories I have read in a long time. So, Simon and Mina will stay with me for a long time and their love is epic – I just wish their journey hadn’t taken the path it did to find their HEA.
*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an eARC that I requested and was provided to me by the publisher. All opinions in this review are my own.*