This novella tells the tale of Viola Hextall, sister to the Earl of Boden. To be honest, I wasn’t sure about this story at the start, as Viola didn’t impress me much in ‘A Good Rogue is Hard to Find’. She was portrayed as a shallow, frivolous young lady whose only aim in life is to marry a duke. In the pursuit of this, she tried to compromise herself with the Duke of Worth, the earl’s best friend. Boden is completely frustrated with her behavior, and packs her off onto one of his ships bound for New York as penance. He sends along two dour chaperones to keep her in line, and she is completely bored and already dreaming of returning to London. In fact, she wonders why she is being sent to ‘New’ York, when old York was perfectly fine!
Normally I don’t care for shipboard stories, but this is Kelly Bowen writing, so I had to trust I would enjoy how she dealt with all of this along with making Viola more likeable as a heroine.
Things pick up for Viola when she decides to set her focus on the ship’s surgeon, Nathanial Shaw. He is a former cavalry surgeon who is on his way to America to start a new life in Missouri. Nate is the opposite of everything Viola wants out of life. Oh he’s handsome, but he’s not interested in money or social standing or what the latest gossip or fashion in the ton might be. At first he’s a little amused that she is asking him questions about what he’s reading, but he soon learns that underneath her frivolous exterior, Viola is a very smart young lady. So smart that he begins to fall a little in love with her. But he can’t help asking her why she is so determined to be a duchess…what would she have accomplished each day if she attains this goal?
Viola was frowning now. “I expect I will be quite busy as a duchess,” she said primly.
“Things that duchesses do. There will be parties. And balls. And other…things to attend to.”
“And this is what you wish to be remembered for? Attending parties?”
Viola starts to let her true character emerge with Nate, and she begins to show more interest in what he does. She doesn’t back away from the medical lessons he gives her, and their time alone leads to more steamy encounters between them. Due to the shortness of the story, things move along pretty quickly but it’s all good. I was happy with how it all came together, and Ms Bowen did her usual great job of creating true to life characters, and pulling me into the story. I think this could be read as a stand-alone if you haven’t read any of the other books in the series; the mentions of the other characters are not so much as to make it confusing.