This book was saved by the great banter between two very interesting leads, but the story itself wasn't quite as dazzling. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed this book. Maybe its that I've just had my fill of historicals set among London balls and house parties, complete with vapid and shallow guests in attendance. But what I haven't had my fill of are heroes and heroines like Marquess Dryden and Phoebe Vale. They were pure fun to read.
Phoebe is one of my favorite kind of female heroines in a historical romance; a clever lass who may very well be the smarter one between the hero and herself. She plays with her hero to the point of distraction, and wins her hero by seducing him oh-so-slowly with her words. And Phoebe nails this role just perfectly. She is a school teacher and chaperone to Lisbeth Redmond, and also mother to the most ornery kitty cat in fiction. She dreams of a life traveling to Africa, and longs for a person to get to know her, the real her, and not just the person they assume she must be since she is just a teacher.
Julian Spenser, Marquess Dryden, is a man on a mission; restore his families wealth, including obtaining a piece of land that once belonged to his mother before his father’s reckless ways lost nearly everything. The land is attached to the dowry of one young, naive but stunningly beautiful Lisbeth Redmond.
Julian finds the task of courting Lisbeth as nothing more than a necessary business transaction, and he's happy to do it. But when Phoebe is near, he finds himself more and more drawn to her. He wants to see what large words will come out of her mouth, what clever retort she might have about him, and what humorous comment she might make. The need to be near Phoebe grows, as does his own desire to have her as his own.
This really was a fun read, and I recommend it to fans of this series and anyone who enjoys historical romances. While I grew a bit bored reading about the mundane activities at the balls and house parties (gambling, shooting, waltzing), and a bit tired of the vapid secondary characters plotting away, I never lost interest in the romance between Jules and Phoebe. They were the star of this book, hands down.