Perhaps reading this book after the Elizabeth Hoyt wasn’t a good idea, as it fell flat in comparison. Jillian Hunter is a new to me author, and I thought maybe this was one of her first books; a quick check on Amazon reveals there are a several by her already however. There’s a lot of praise for her, but I just didn’t get the same feeling about it. The style of writing and the historical inaccuracies annoyed me.
The basic premise is that the four Fenwick sisters have been left penniless after their father is killed. How is he killed, you ask? He was cheating at cards at his eldest daughter’s debutante ball, got caught and called out to a duel where he was shot. There is little mention of their mother, so I don’t know what happened with her. Also at this ball, Ivy (eldest daughter in question) was kissed by a masked stranger, who is going off to war soon. Of course, she isn’t ruined, but left with the sweet memory of it.
Now the solider, James, is the heir to the Duke of Ellsworth, (or he is already the duke, I’m not quite sure) which is weird again…as heir, shouldn’t he be able to stay out of that? And he has a younger brother, who is also heading to battle as well, what is wrong with this picture? The heir and the spare are both soldiers…? Obviously I had a lot of questions about this book!
Fast forward five years later, and James returns home, after being wounded. He is anticipating spending time with his mistress, but finds he is suddenly burdened with his brother’s two children. Said brother is still at war, and his wife decided to ditch the kids and have some fun (not sure when the brother had time to sire two children, but whatever). A governess is required, and lo and behold, he interviews Ivy for the job, and ends up kissing her, as you do, and hiring her. All interest in the mistress is suddenly replaced by his lust for Ivy.
Ivy needs the job, to provide money for the family of sisters, who will likely all have their own books. They live in a ramshackle Tudor mansion, grow their own vegetables, and sell the family treasures for money. (This set up gave me flashbacks to Little Women, without Marmee). There’s also another man in the picture, a poet who believes there is a treasure to be found in their house and shows up to be irritating.
Nothing about this appealed to me, James was rather cardboard, without much responsibility other than chasing Ivy. I didn’t care about their attraction, or the fact that his supposed mistress was actually in love with his brother. James is just James, not Ellsworth as nobility is usually referred to. His brother is named Curtis, a name that seemed out of place to me for this time period.
Anyway, the book rolls along, more things happen, James and Ivy fall in love, and live happily ever after…yada yada yada….
So, not a good read, and I don’t recommend it.