I was seduced by the hype on this book. It boasts an impressive 2nd place on AAR's top 100 romance novels poll, so perhaps I was expecting an epic rather than simple brain candy. Don't get me wrong, the story was enjoyable in a trite sort of way - but it was no "second best bodice ripper ever". No sir.
I'll go ahead and state up front that I absolutely abhor plot lines that flow around a plain jane mouse who couldn't catch the eye of any man on the planet, much less the attention of the delicious rake with the fabulous abs and brooding eyes. But then suddenly, her spectacles are removed, her hair is unbound and lo and behold, what have we here? A goddess of breathtaking proportions! Paaa leezz.
Anywho.....If that's what makes your socks go up and down, by all means - delve right in.
Onto my review....(as I remove my glasses and take out my hair clip...)
Although as I stated above, this sort of plot line grates against me, I thought there were some redeeming qualities. Couple things I liked: For one, the heroine wasn't all: "Oh darling, you've got loads of money, of course I'll help you spend it!" I like that she felt a bit awkward when it came to suddenly being ridiculously loaded. Also, the reformation of the hero was touching in it's own sweet way. So was every moment with the heroines parents. Very cute. The heroine was a bit of a Holly Hobby, going around winning everyone on the blessed earth over with her cheery optimism and sunny disposition. Excuse me while I choke on that overused character spin. Her one good quality was that she insisted on being an independent working woman instead of barefoot and pregnant,but ahem...if that's the only thing you got going for you... Just sayin.
Meanwhile, the blackheart hero was delightfully flawed and fabulously emotional, keeping the pages somewhat turnable. The plot twists and turns were rather predictable and I didn't warm up to the heroine until about three quarters of the way through the book. I wouldn't go so far as to recommend this book to a friend. Unless I knew that this sort of story line was their "thing".
Overall, I would have given the story a paltry two out of six stars, but since the ending turned out to be rather smashing with the characters finally endearing themselves a smidge, I'll bump it up to 3 stars.
Sara Fielding, a proper, if somewhat eccentric, country-bred English gentlewoman, is also a well-known writer of popular fiction. Her first novel, "Mathilda," is beloved by most who can read. Ms. Fielding has traveled to London to research the underworld of gambling for her latest book. Venturing into the London stews late one evening, and taking copious notes on Cockney street cant, local color and any noteworthy incidents that might add flavor to her fiction, Sara inadvertently witnesses and interrupts a violent stabbing. She pulls out the pistol she carries for protection, (target-shooting at home in Greenwood Corners is a necessary hobby, obviously). She shoots one of the attackers, meaning only to wound, while another escapes. Thus, 25 year old Sara Fielding saves the life of Derek Craven.
Mr. Craven is the fabulously wealthy owner of London's most exclusive gambling club. He is a self-made man and wheels and deals with the most powerful people in England. In a world where knowledge is power, he has knowledge of exactly how much money the wealthy and landed possess; who owes what to whom; who is on the verge of bankruptcy, etc.. Craven was born destitute, however, and his prostitute mother abandoned him soon after the birth. Pimps, prostitutes & criminals raised him in the darkest of city slums, & he managed to survive by becoming as ruthless as he needed to be. Cynicism is Mr. Craven's middle name and money is what he believes in. Any tender feelings or emotions he might have had, or hoped to have, he buried deep inside of himself where they can never be found. Love is weakness and weakness is to be despised. Get the picture? So, Derek has little patience for anyone or anything that does not serve his ends. I might add here, for the sake of us romance readers...yes, he also happens to be handsome and a hunk, in a rough, virile sort of way. :) Anyway, he does owe Sara his life...& he is Mr. Gambling King...and she is doing research on gambling...so they get to hang out! Yes, her lovely innocence gets to him...although he resists mightily. And the adventures begin, as does a most wonderful love story.
One of my favorites by Lisa Kleypas! This is one I have read over again, because the characters were so great in this book. If you like Lisa Kleypas this is a must read.
All I can say is WOW!...This is a wonderfully well written love story. I love Lisa Kleypas and this book deserves it's spot close to the top of the AAR list.
You simply cannot help falling in love with Derrek right along with Sara, I really really recommend it.
As many people have said before me, this is possibly one of Lisa Kleypas' best books. The characters are very vivid and realistic. Derek Craven is the ultimate flawed romantic hero. His story is heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time. This is a wonderful story that you will remember for many years to come. You will never want to repost this book. Its a keeper!