With her two best friends happily married, Lucinda Barrett realizes she can no longer put off her lessons in love. The rogue she hopes to educate must be someone who will keep her life steady and uneventful - and that someone is definitely not Robert Carroway! The handsome, brooding war hero is far too complicated, and he shuns London society and its "trivialities." Still, it is a pleasant surprise when Robert offers to assist Lucinda in her mission to reform and wed a more suitable nobleman. Now if only she can resist the sensuous allure of Robert's astoundingly blue eyes - and his intense fire that leaves her breathless. Lucinda wants a husband, not a passionate, irresistible lover who could shake her world with one deep, lingering kiss. And her heart is telling her that this man could be the most dangerous, disastrous... and exhilarating love she will ever know.
I think I've reviewed this twice already on the blog, LOL. This book is one of my comfort reads. Third in Enoch's famed Lessons in Love trilogy, this one is my favorite. Many claim Saint to be one of their favorite heroes (from book 2), but I love Bit.
I seem to gravitate toward books with main characters who suffer from PTSD. Don't know why. If you read my re-read review for He Said Yes, I linked to my original review for the series, where book 3 - He Said Now, has a fabulous PTSD hero. Read that one, too.
Anyway, back to this book. England's Perfect Hero has an amazing hero. 3 years after his return from the war with France and his experience as a POW, he is the poster boy for PTSD. He still cowers in the corner of his room. He still rocks back and forth on the floor, lost in his own world, losing hours at a time. He still cries. He still is afraid to interact with people, his own family included. Afraid of his own memories - because to remember would be to die. He still is fine one moment, and the next simply disintegrates into a quivering ball of uncontrolled fear and emotion. With each look into Robert's psyche, I can't help but fall for him; want to heal him, help him, just plain make him feel less hurt.
Enter Lucinda. Bit overhears his sister-in-law (heroine of book 1) and her friends discussing their lessons. He runs into Lucinda and asks who she's chosen for her lessons. Somehow, he manages to interact with her. He manages to feel somewhat human around her. And he craves more of it. He offers to help her with her lessons.
Lucinda gradually draws Bit out of his shell, little by little. In an honest portrayal, Enoch gives him major setbacks, major phobias, major paranoias. But he wants to be there for Lucinda.
In return, she grows to learn that there is more to life than just looking for a man. Than living for the next ball or party. She grows into what Bit needs, and wants to be what he needs.
The book, while focusing on Bit and Lucinda, also shows the entire Carroway clan, and how PTSD can affect an entire family. All the way from Viscount Dare (hero of book 1) to 10 year old Edward. The book portrays a close-knit family that rallies around one another to support and love. It's always great to see close families, especially in historicals where there is often so much strife among families.
The only thing I could do without in this book is a suspensy back story of someone trying to discredit Robert. Thankfully, this is short-lived, and it does serve a purpose in getting Robert out into society a little faster than he might have done otherwise. (This is obviously a current pet peeve of mine, LOL)
I love this book. Still. I love that Robert is always confronting his fear in order to face each day. Sometimes a success, sometimes a dismal failure. Lucinda is unfailingly devoted to him and to their friendship first, then to their love. I like that even as they accept their love and announce it, they acknowledge to each other the long road ahead. Knowing that this may be as good as it gets, that Robert may never be "whole", but that Lucinda makes him feel as whole as he can be.
Robert is an amazingly drawn character. Sometimes full of self-pity and self-doubt. Sometimes accepting of his situation. Sometimes wanting to better it. Sometimes strong, sometimes stoic. Always immensely human. You want to cry when he stumbles back into his corner, and pump your fist in the air with each small step out of his room. It's definitely his story. Lucinda is along for the ride, although she does her share of growing, as noted above.
Still one of my all-time favorites. Still on my keeper shelf (as is the entire trilogy).