Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Bound by a Scandalous Secret - Diane Gaston (HH #1308 - Dec 2016)

Read December 6, 2016

Series: Scandalous Summerfields (Book 3)

A most shocking betrothal!

The pleasure-seeking Marquess of Rossdale has little interest in his birthright and even less in finding a bride. So he comes up with the perfect plan to survive the Season unscathed -- a fake engagement to a most unsuitable girl!

Outspoken Genna, the youngest of the scandalous Summerfields, has no wish to marry, either. So agreeing to be Ross's temporary fiancĂ©e will grant her freedom for a little longer. But with every kiss, both Ross and Genna must face up to what they really desire…a true match!

Good book. Genna is the youngest of the Summerfield siblings, living with her sister Lorene and her husband. Years ago, when they were kicked out of their home by the new heir, Lorene had married a much older man as a way to make sure her siblings were cared for.  It is not a happy marriage, as Lord Tinmore never lets any of them forget what he has done for them. The Summerfield siblings are also known as the Scandalous Summerfields because their parents created quite a scandal when their mother ran off with another man. Sister Tess created more scandal when forced to marry her husband though it turned out well, and their brother Edmund is illegitimate.

Genna has no intention of marrying. What she has seen of marriage doesn't inspire her to try it herself. Instead, she plans to hold out against Lord Tinmore's plans to marry her off until her twenty-first birthday then make her own way in the world as a painter. One day while painting she meets the Marquess of Rossdale and they strike up a friendship. Ross is also under pressure to marry and is putting it off for as long as he can.

Ross is visiting his friend Dell, who is a distant cousin to the Summerfields when he meets Genna. He is intrigued by her and wants to get to know her better. His few encounters with her over his visit only increase his fascination. A few months later they meet in London during the Season. Ross is intrigued by Genna's determination to make her own way in the world as an artist and is determined to help her. But because of the rules of the time, spending much time with her is difficult. He comes up with the idea that they pretend to be engaged, enabling them to spend more time together and, as a bonus, getting their matchmaking families off their backs. Neither one thinks about the drawbacks to the plan.

I loved the development of their relationship. All Ross wants to do is make it possible for Genna to fulfill her dreams. He remembers back to his childhood and his mother's unhappiness and doesn't want the same thing to happen to her. It was sweet to see the joy he got from each new experience he gave her. As the weeks went on, Ross frequently found himself wondering what it would be like if they actually got married, but he's afraid it would kill her chances to make her dreams come true. Genna loves the time she spends with Ross, who she feels is the only one who really understands what she wants in life. She finds that her feelings for him are changing, but she knows very well that there is too much of a gulf between them for a marriage to be possible. She also has no confidence that she would even be capable of doing what is required of a duchess. When the attraction that has been building between them has his honor butting up against her fears, Genna flees, telling Ross he needs someone better than she is. It's up to Ross to decide if he wants to break the unhappy pattern set by his father and grandfather and go for the life he wants for himself. I loved his big moment at the end and the epilogue was sweet.

There were several secondary characters that played important roles. Lord Tinmore is a nasty piece of work. I didn't like the way he always put Lorene down. In this book he was also quite the suck-up. Once he found out who Ross's father was, he was determined to take advantage of the relationship. I also didn't much care for the Duke and Duchess. He was far too focused on politics, to the detriment of having a real relationship with his son. The Duchess was just plain manipulative and snobby. I hated her attitude about Genna and loved seeing Genna stand up to her. Most fascinating were Lorene and Dell. Lorene is married to Tinmore and constantly doing whatever she can to keep the peace between him and her siblings. Dell has recently inherited Summerfield under tragic circumstances and is still trying to recover. There is an instant connection between the two of them. I ached for Dell as he saw what she is going through and can do nothing about it. The subtle attention he pays her seems to soften her a bit toward others, and bolsters her confidence as seen in the epilogue. I'm looking forward to seeing if something comes of it.

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