After years of unrequited love for Henrietta, Kesseley is resigned to go along with her plan and woo himself a willing bride. But once in London, everything changes. Kesseley-long more concerned with his land than his title-discovers that he's interested in sowing wild oats as well as radishes. And Henrietta realizes that gothic heroes don't make ideal husbands. Despite an explosive kiss that opens her eyes to the love that's been in front of her all along, Henrietta must face the possibility that Kesseley is no longer looking to marry at all.
This book felt like two distinct books. In the first part, Henrietta comes across to me as particularly whiny and selfish. Everything is all about her, and she gives little thought to how her actions or words affect her closest friend, Thomas. Thomas has been in love with Henrietta forever, and while I admired his thoughtful nature, he was a bit of a wuss where she was concerned, frequently declaring his love when he was rebuffed at every turn. I wanted to see him tell her to get lost, and go find himself someone else to love.
The second half occurs when Thomas realizes she's never going to be his, and he becomes like his father, being a rake and sleeping around. Which opened another can of worms for me, since he was in love with Henrietta, and slept with anything that moved. Henrietta still comes across as immature and a bit selfish for the rest of the book.
Thomas' mother, at first despises Henrietta because she's broken Thomas' heart one too many times, but halfway into their London stay, all of a sudden they are best friends. That seemed an abrupt change that I didn't understand.
Once Thomas and Henrietta do get together, the purple prose he spouted was a bit on the nauseating side.
"Nothing's amusing, my beautiful, dearest wife whom I desire more than life."
"Come here, my lover who can see the light in the darkness", Kesseley whispered, laying his wife's head on his heart. "Let me feel you."
Also, the editor should have caught the whole "laying his wife's head on his heart" bit. I pictured him tarking her beheaded head and laying it down. Just me? Dunno. The crazy thing is that the writing wasn't like this during the rest of the book. It's almost as if two different people wrote this book.
What Ives did do very well was to contrast the country life with the depravity of London. She doesn't shy away from showing the lifestyle and the more Thomas immerses himself in it, the more his disgust with himself grows until he comes full circle and realizes that's not the life he wants.
Overall, there was a lot going on here, between Henrietta's unrequited love for her cousin, her father's colleague's unrequited love for Henrietta, Thomas' unrequited love for her and then her love for him while he turns her away. I think it tried to do too much, and while I enjoyed the writing for the most part (purple prose aside), my dislike for the heroine's selfishness and utter self-absorption kept me from fully enjoying this book.