Synposis: Goodreads Amazon
Vivian Worth is in danger of being unmarriageable unless she can get a man she's never met to agree to the contract drawn up by their families. Luke, Duke of Foxhaven, is wary of the secret agreement his father made shortly before his death, but he travels to see the lady in question. He has no idea what to expect. What you can expect is a breezy, feel-good romance that disappears like movie popcorn - in other words, before you know it. It's a historical, so there is a meet-cute and a country house party, complete with rakes and spinsters.
Grace really shines with the main characters' motivations and desires. Vivian wants marriage and security, but she also wants to be true to herself. Unfortunately, an event from her past has tarnished her chances of a public courting and engagement. A lesser woman might fight unrealistically and by some lucky stroke all society accepts her as she is, like so many novels try to have us believe. Vivian knows that she has to pay a price for the indiscretion so she tries hard to be the kind of wife a man of her class would want even if she will live not as the lively adventurous girl she is. Vivian is a charming character who is easy to like, but her understanding of the strict world she lives in and her grasp of the concept of consequences raise her somewhere above the common romance heroine.
Her counterpart's complexity comes from a physical injury that has taken a psychological toll. Luke is not your typical useless aristocrat. The fresh weight of his family responsibilities chafes - Luke also has dreams and thought he had time to pursue them. In a way, he is just as confined to a narrow life as Vivian. How he deals with it and why are what make him a better man. What I liked about getting to know these lovely lusty people and how they get together is the light touch Grace has in telling what could be a Serious Angsty Drama. That would also be a good version in its own way, but Grace's style makes this a thoroughly enjoyable read. Some side characters are painted a bit broadly and loose ends are wrapped up a bit suddenly and predictably, but she gets it right where it counts.