Thursday, June 5, 2014

To Charm a Naughty Countess by Theresa Romain

The Basics:
To Charm a Naughty Countess by Theresa Romain
Sourcebooks Casablanca
Book Two in the Regency Matchmaker Trilogy
Historical Romance
Published May 6, 2014
Source: Received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Why I picked up this book:

I've had success with Sourcebooks Casablanca in the past, and I liked the blurb.


Can a reclusive duke...

Brilliant but rumored mad, Michael Layward, the impoverished Duke of Wyverne, has no success courting heiresses until widowed Lady Stratton takes up his cause—after first refusing his suit.

Win London's most powerful countess?

Caroline Graves, the popular Countess of Statton, sits alone at the pinnacle of London society and has vowed never to remarry. When Michael—her counterpart in an old scandal—returns to town after a long absence, she finds herself as enthralled with him as ever. As she guides the anxiety-ridden duke through the trials of London society, Caroline realizes that she's lost her heart. But if she gives herself to the only man she's ever loved, she'll lose the hard won independence she prizes above all.

My thoughts:

I'm so glad I picked this one up! Michael and Caroline's romance is sweet and awkward and I really enjoyed going along for the ride.

I think this book is particularly topical with the discussion of social anxiety and the autism spectrum that's come up in the media, in film and tv of late. Michael's social awkwardness coupled with his desire to understand and to do *better* completely endeared him to me. And Caroline's desire to help him despite the way he kept trampling on her feelings - her desire to understand him - made me root for this couple from the start.

Usually I am leery of couples who have previously broken up because of all the hurt feelings and the potential for more heartbreak before the inevitable happy ending. But that didn't bother me at all with this one. Perhaps because Michale is so oblivious and Caroline is so determined to focus on helping him (and herself), there's no maliciousness or lashing out.

The wife-hunting plot was handled well, and I appreciated the way the potential brides were introduced - as well as their very different personalities. It was refereshing for Caroline to actually select women who had potential to make a good match with Michael (though each was clearly not the right one).

Truly, this novel was exactly what I want when I pick up a historical romance. I found it quite satisfying, quite endearing and I can see myself picking it up again and re-reading it in that way I do with romances, flicking through my favourite parts for a quick pick-me-up.  

Bottom line:

I wholeheartedly recommend this one. I'll be watching for the third book in the trilogy (and probably hunt down the first as I missed it - and for me to go backwards in a trilogy is a *truly* rare thing!). Very impressed!

5 stars
For fans of historical romance, Regency romances, wife-hunting plots, men who are socially awkward.

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