I always enjoy Eloisa James' books and this was not an exception. I also have a fondness for the fun she has writing the foibles of the upper classes in their dealings with the uninhibited ways of children. The heroine in the novel has grown up with the belief that she is unmarriagable because she has a physical defect and cannot bear children. The hero in the book is convinced that he can ignore his two little step-sisters when they are all orphaned, and leave all that "unpleasantness" to governesses. The Ton believes that he must marry an heiress for her money. When all these circumstances come together and the two are forced to marry, no one thought that they might just simply be mistaken about everything.
James is a hit or miss with me. I either hate her stuff or like it quite a bit. This one was enjoyable.
I thought Henrietta was interesting. I think her reactions towards the children's less than ideal behavior was pretty realistic, especially compared to what she expected. Simon was surprisngly likeable even though he was such a dandy. I find myself more interested in the developing relationship between the kids and the adults more than the love affair.
On a side note, Esme who used to be one of my favorite characters has turned into an annoying pity pot here. The way she keeps talking about Miles being a good man (he didn't even bother hiding his mistress from her or anyone else so he doesn't quite win the husband of the year award from me) and pushing Sebastian away made me want to slap her. However, I used to find Sebastian annoying but he was utterly delicious here. I loved that he gave up everything to be near her and wouldn't let her give up. Hey, maybe he needs to drop dead too before Esme wises up.
This is the second book in The Duchess Quartet by Eloisa James. While it was probably my least favorite out of the four books in this series, it is by no means a poorly written book. It is better read as part of the series than as a stand-alone, however.