Author: Renee Bernard
Publish Date: Aug 3, 2010
Pages: 271, paperback
Reason for reading: Reviewed for The Season
Bernard gives us a sweet & sassy love story between a spoiled Englishman and his unassuming yet captivating American chaperone.
Ashe Blackwell has changed. Once focused and well-mannered, he has now become your typical rake and his grandfather has had enough of it. What his grandfather doesn’t understand is that Ashe’s lifestyle is his way of forgetting the painful memories of his capture in India some years before. His grandfather makes him a wager. If Ashe can prove himself to be responsible by remaining free of scandal for the remainder of the season, then he will not be removed from the will thus retaining his inheritance. That’s not all though. His grandfather has ensured that the reins on his grandson will be held tight by a chaperone – enter Miss Caroline Townsend.
Miss Caroline Townsend, from Boston, has booked passage to London at the request of her grandfather’s dearest friend. She is to temporarily chaperone a spoiled English nobleman under the pretense that she is being introduced to English society. If she is successful, she stands to gain a very nice paycheck, which she intends to use to open her own school where young ladies can be educated. Unbeknownst to anyone but herself, she is in dire straits and this income will help her fulfill her dream as well as help her to survive on her own.
Ashe does not take well to this assignment and he is hell-bent on sending the drab and mousy little American packing back to the Colonies. What he is unprepared for is the ease at which this mousy little American can woo people. She’s smart, incredibly charismatic, and stubborn to a fault. Their little game eventually becomes all too real though. Soon, Caroline realizes that she cannot compete with the beautiful and wealthy women of the English ton and Ashe realizes that until Caroline, he’s never really known love or passion.
I really enjoyed getting to know these characters and Caroline in particular was a breath of fresh air. Too often, we read historical novels that, from the English point of view, criticize Americans. It was so refreshing to read about an American girl who, in spite of her lack of wealth and her drab appearance, wins the hearts of even the staunchest Englishmen.
The plot involving the wager and the subsequent conflict between Ashe and Caroline is a bit simplistic. However, Bernard does a great job expressing the chemistry and passion between them. There are also a few scenes that are especially fun to read.
The thought helped him to rein in the blaze of raw lust and address the problem at hand – why in God’s name was Caroline Townsend in his bedroom? “Miss Townsend?” He stepped forward, deliberately making no effort to race for a dressing jacket or make some show of false modesty. It would serve the little terrier right to get a taste of her own medicine. “If you meant to call on my jest about helping me to bed…”Without giving away too much, I’d like to mention that I was happy with the ending to their story. She didn't simply run into his arms because he said those three magical words. Although he knew as well as she did that she loved him too, he had to prove that she was more than enough for him. In a twisted sort of way, that endeared him to me because he demonstrated that they were both worth it...and that was sweet!
She turned to face him, and he knew immediately that something was off. The crisp intelligence that generally shone from her eyes was muted behind a dreamy glow. “Can you believe it? I never thought I’d make such a good sailor, but the seas are so calm.” “Are they?” Ashe smiled and shook his head at the amazing revelation that his prim and impossible little chaperone suffered from the most delightful malady. The lady sleepwalked.” ~pg 45-46
This was my first Bernard novel, but I certainly don't think it will be my last!