Terrific story. Now that her sister has landed a duke, Violet believes that she is safe from her social-climbing parents' machinations. Surely she can now pursue her dreams of becoming a published author. But wait, now her father wants to barter her to another English lord who has mineral rights that he wants. Nothing Violet says will change his mind, and Lord Ware will do anything to have her. After barely escaping Ware's attempt to compromise her, Violet decides running away is her only option.
Christian, the Earl of Leigh, isn't in debt like so many of his peers, but he doesn't have the funds to refurbish his Scottish property. After being turned down by Violet's father, Christian concocts a scheme to convince Violet to marry him. A few hints dropped, and an "accidental" meeting has Christian escorting Violet on her escape. With luck, he'll have her married and in his bed before anyone catches up to them.
I liked Violet. She's all sweetness and obedience on the surface, but she has sass, determination, and a spine of steel when it comes to going after what she wants. Her disgust for the nobles who only see her fortune makes her unwilling to fall in with her parents' plans. She's a little naÃ¯ve about her escape plans, which is how Christian manages to insert himself into them.
I like Christian, too. His early life was difficult, with a cold, uncaring father and an absent mother. After inheriting only debts after his father died, Christian made a name for himself through bare-knuckle fighting and starting his own gaming hell. When he sets his sights on Violet and her fortune, nothing will get in his way.
I loved watching the relationship develop between Christian and Violet. Sparks flew between them from the start, even though Violet did not trust him. Christian was the one who warned her about Lord Ware, positioning himself to be her savior. Suspecting her intention to run, Christian took steps to make sure he would be the one to help her with her escape. He intends to hijack her plan and take her to Scotland instead. I loved the "road trip" romance, as forced proximity allowed them to get to know each other. It was fun to see Violet's straightforward American ways open Christian's eyes to the indignities women endure and the privilege that the aristocracy takes for granted.
The more time they spent together, the more Christian came to like Violet as a person, not just the means to an end. Violet's feelings for Christian also began to change. She no longer saw him as just another nobleman but as a man with his own set of problems. That same proximity also amplified the attraction that grew between them. As the days of their journey went on, Christian's conscience began to bother him. When a carriage accident resulted in Violet being injured, his guilty feelings became overwhelming. When attraction and growing feelings overtook common sense, it looked like everything would work out. But Christian still hadn't come clean, and when Violet's brother Max tracked them down, the truth came out.
Devastated and heartbroken, Violet no longer knew what to believe. Was anything that Christian said the truth or just manipulation? To mitigate the scandal, Christian and Violet must marry, but Violet refuses to cave in entirely. I loved watching her stand up for herself and her needs, forcing Christian to keep his distance. I ached for Christian, who fell hard for Violet and knows how badly he messed up. He is down on himself, believing he deserves all the misery he experiences and promises to give Violet the space she needs. I loved the advice he received on how to win her back and what he did with it. Violet's reaction when she learns of his efforts was fantastic. I loved the emotional ending as Christian redeems himself.