Published by Avon on February 27th 2018
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble
The Duke’s five daughters have beauty, breeding, and impeccable reputations. Or at least, they did. Now that two have chosen to follow their hearts, can the others be far behind?
Lady Olivia refuses to repeat her siblings’ scandalous mistakes. Instead, she will marry the lord rejected by her sister and help with his good works. When he resists, Olivia forms another plan: win his lordship’s admiration by helping his illegitimate best friend find a bride. How difficult can it be to transform the rakish Edward Wolcott into a gentleman? To ignore his virile good looks? To not kiss him in a moment of impulsive madness? Apparently, very difficult indeed.
Edward Wolcott promised his ailing father he would marry well, and it appears Lady Olivia wishes to assist him. The sparkling firebrand intends to smooth his way through London’s ballrooms, parlors, and eligible ladies, while all Edward’s thoughts suddenly revolve around bedrooms . . . and Lady Olivia herself. Only a scoundrel would seduce the duke’s most dutiful daughter. And only a truly reckless lady would risk everything to be in his arms . . .
“. . . Bennett.”
His eyes widened at her use of his first name, and he blinked a few times. Overcome by his emotions, perhaps? She smiled reassuringly. “We feel the same way about so many things.” She put her hand on his sleeve. His gaze went to where her hand lay, and she wished she was daring enough to run the fingers of her other hand through his hair. She wasn’t, not yet. Perhaps later, after everything was settled.
“And since we are of much the same mind, I know that it only makes sense for us to get married. So we can finally be together.” She exhaled. “There. I’ve finally said it.” And she tilted her face up so he could kiss her.
And edged forward, since it seemed that he wasn’t going to. Perhaps he was unsure if a kiss would be welcome? She should let him know it would be perfectly welcome.
“You may kiss me, if you like. Since we are now betrothed.”
He still did not kiss her, and she felt a pang of regret. Instead, he closed his eyes and leaned his head back so that even if she wished to initiate a kiss, she couldn’t. He was too tall, and now his mouth was too far away from hers.
A slow uncomfortable feeling began to unravel inside her, and she felt her breath hitch.
“I am aware of the great honor you do me, Lady Olivia,” he said, his eyes still closed. Then he opened them, and she wanted to leap back at what she saw in his gaze. Was it possible he did not love her? “But I do not regard you in that way, and I think it best if we forget this conversation ever happened.”
Olivia froze for a moment as she absorbed the words. And then felt her face blaze as fiercely as any fire she’d ever encountered. “You do not regard me in that way?” she repeated, hearing the words fall out of her mouth even though she didn’t think she could speak. “You’re saying you are not in love with me?”
She snatched her hand off his sleeve and dropped it behind her back, her fingers wiggling in the air as though trying to find purchase. Because it felt as though she were falling off a very high cliff. “Not in love with me?” she said again, wishing he would step forward and take her in his arms and say it was all a mistake, he was testing her, but knowing it wouldn’t.
“Oh,” she said in a soft voice, looking anywhere but at him. “I’ve just thrown myself at you, and now it seems you don’t feel the same way.” Something caught her eye and she walked forward, past him, to snatch it up from the small table. It was a dome encasing a small yellow flower, one of those ornamental things everybody had as part of their everyday clutter.
This isn’t you, a voice said in her head. This isn’t who you are, or who you want to be.
But she couldn’t keep herself from curling her fingers around it, feeling the cool glass on her palm. Knowing she could throw it if she wanted to. Which she very much did. This, at least, she could do. She could control her actions now, even if she couldn’t control his. She’d just thrown herself at him? She could throw other things too.
She raised the dome over her head, all of her pent-up emotion channeling itself through her upraised arm, flinging it toward the opposite wall, not close enough to possibly hit him, but startling nonetheless.
The object shattered into pieces, the noise of the impact the only sound in the room. It wasn’t loud enough to cause anyone to notice, not with the band continuing to play in the ballroom as though hearts weren’t currently being broken.
“Olivia, you should consider,” he began, but she shook her head before he could get more words out.
“Get out.” She spoke in a low tone, because if she raised her voice she would scream, and she couldn’t cause that kind of scene, not as one of the duke’s daughters, who already had a penchant for causing trouble. Not to mention it would be horribly embarrassing. Yes, Lady Olivia was proposing to me, and I was rejecting her, and then she threw a decorative object at my head. If he said anything about it at all, which she knew as a gentleman he would not.
“Get out,” she repeated in a stronger voice this time.
Something in her expression must have told him not to press the issue, because he shook his head and walked past her and back out into the ballroom, closing the door behind him.
Leaving her alone with her thoughts and her humiliation.
She took a deep breath and withdrew her handkerchief from her pocket, preparing herself for an epic cry.
“Pardon me,” a deep voice said from the depths of the sofa opposite, “but I think it is probably best that I make my departure as well.”
Olivia’s mouth opened in shock as a man—a tall, perfectly dressed, and remarkably handsome man—emerged from behind the sofa, his hair disheveled. He offered her a sly grin and she felt all of her ire direct itself onto this stranger who’d had the effrontery to listen to her make a fool of herself.
“And who are you?” she replied haughtily, taking refuge in her bred-to-the-bone aristocratic manner.
He spread his arms and made a low bow. “I am Mr. Edward Wolcott, at your service,” he replied in an amused tone.
“Oh!” she said in recognition. “The bast—” She began, then put her hand to her open mouth.
His smile halted and the look in his eyes got fierce. “Yes, my lady. The bastard.”
One winner will receive a paperback set of Lady Be Bad and Lady Be Reckless by Megan Frampton.
~~Reviewed by Lisa~~
We have Lady Olivia Howlett, daughter of the Duke of Marymount and Mr. Edward Wolcott, born on the wrong side of the blanket. Both desperately want to be needed and needed for themselves, not her connections or his wealth. Where Olivia has a chip on her shoulder about social inequities, injustices and inequalities (real or assumed), Edward’s chis is because he is constantly fighting against his birth and dislike of the ton. They each need to get out of their own ways and see things from a different perspective. Thankfully they help each other achieve this.
I liked the story between Olivia and Edward. Their banter was charming and they kept each other on their toes. Watching Olivia’s motivation change was interesting and seeing her “AH HA” moment caught me off guard in a pleasant way. Edward was slow to grasp his “AH HA” moment, but seemed to enjoy and embrace his new sense of freedom and lightness of heart more than Olivia.
I realize the main concept behind the story was Edward’s being illegitimate, but I did feel a bit battered and bruised by the end of the story. Throughout the story I was constantly reminded, like there had been time to forget, that Edward was a “B.” Even after Olivia realizes she loves him the “B” word was first in her mind, heart and tongue. IT was always mentioned at social events, walks in the park, rides through the park and dinner parties. On one hand for Edward, he seemed ok with it because he knew his father loved him and, contrary to the times in the ton, was demonstrative. On the other hand, Edward was always defensive and seemed almost to the point of self-loathing and total disgust with the world. In every way he was the gentleman, he dressed the part, had the manners, was able to converse in society, but he allowed the view of the ton to dictate how he was going to act.
I did not read the first book in the series, but enough background was given that I did not feel lost. The Duchess, Olivia’s mother, had me sending up prayers of thanks to my mother for being present, loving and caring in my life. A more self-absorbed, brainless and insensitive woman I have never met- real or book! I am convinced the Dike’s daughters have grown up to enter society is a testament to NATURE and society’s rules. I adored Olivia’s twin, Pearl and her other sister, Ida, immensely. They were humorous, loving and amazingly level-headed given their parents. I think I will read the first in the series to see if the Duchess has always been that way and hope that she snaps out of it for Pearl and Ida. I look forward to their stories!
I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.