For eight long years, Miss Clio Whitmore has been waiting for her betrothed, Piers Brandon, now the Marquess of Granville to stop travelling the globe and avoiding her. They’ve barely seen each other since they got engaged, and Piers has never even kissed her. Then there’s the fact that Clio’s frighteningly ambitious mother did everything in her power to make sure Clio was the perfect Marchioness and diplomat’s wife, making sure that her entire life was a training exercise, to the point of starving her as she had the misfortune of not being as tall and svelte as her two sisters. Now Clio has inherited a castle and its surrounding lands and she’s not about to be “Miss Wait-more” any longer. She just needs her fiance’s younger brother to sign off on the annulment papers, and then she intends to support herself by starting a brewery.
Rafe Brandon is the black sheep of the family, and made his own way as a prizefighter after his father disowned him. After their father died, though, Rafe has done his best to take care of his brother’s estates, lands and holdings to the best of his ability, even though he hates accounts, paperwork and is pretty sure all the staff look down on him. He’s already guilt-ridden about their father dying while Piers was away on the other side of the globe somewhere, he’s not about to let his brother’s promised bride run off either. He’s determined to change Clio’s mind, even if he has to plan and arrange the wedding himself. As a result, he shows up at her castle, his personal trainer and Piers’ ancient bulldog in tow. His plan involves dazzling Clio with the perfect flowers, decorations, cakes, not to mention an exquisite dress. He refuses to listen when Clio tries to explain that even if she were willing to marry Piers, she doesn’t actually want a big elaborate ceremony.
Clio tries to persuade Rafe to sign the annulment papers. Rafe keeps trying to come up with new heights of wedding luxury to change her mind. Not helping matters are Clio’s bitchy younger sister Daphne, clueless and insulting brother-in-law (their nickname for Clio is “dumpling”), nor Clio’s socially challenged youngest sister Phoebe (nickname “kitten”) who would rather be working on advanced mathematical equations or studying than acting as bridesmaid. The chief complication to Clio and Rafe’s negotiations, however, is the sizzling chemistry and palpable attraction between them. The only thing worse than Clio dissolving the betrothal would surely be if Rafe fell for his brother’s intended?
I’ve said it before, and will say it again. Tessa Dare writes wonderfully frothy and diverting romance. More on my blog.