Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Emma Holly - Beyond Innocence

When her beloved father passes away, Florence Fairleigh finds herself alone in the world. All she wants is a man who will treat her kindly and support her financially—and she's come to London to find him.
Edward Burbrooke thinks marriage is the only way to save his brother, Freddie—and their family—from scandalous ruin. As head of the family, Edward has vowed to find Freddie a bride—and fast.

Thrown together by Edward, Florence and Freddie make a perfect pair—until Edward realizes he has feelings for his brother's betrothed. The sight of her nubile young body makes his blood burn with lust. The sound of her voice makes his heart warm with love. And the sweet taste of her kiss makes him wonder if he isn't making a terrible mistake.

Comment: When looking for the book for the TBR Challenge of July's theme I went for this author. While trying to pick a title from the ones I had, this one was also a choice but I let it go because it didn't seem as much erotica as some of her other novels. I'm glad I didn't because this one is historical and much more modest than her other work. Nevertheless I was curious to see something by her without such a strong erotic content.

This is the story of Edward and Florence. She is a young woman who knows she doesn't have much money left so she leaves for London to find employment or a good marriage asking for help in a friend of her father's. This is how she ends up meeting Edward, his brother Freddie and a cast of people who'll be an important part of her new life.
Edward feels attracted as soon as he sees Florence but he is looking for a bride for his younger brother, who might face a scandal. But love and attraction don't pick their players and both Florence and Edward have a tricky path in front of them.

I was quite satisfied with this book. In fact, after finishing it, I was quite surprised by how much I ended up enjoying it.
The story has a certain seductive air but it's not erotica and I think for an author so well known by her erotic books, this was quite the confirmation of her talent because with this novel she proves she can do different and well at that.
This story has a classic historical storyline, the older brother finds a bride for his sibling but ends up falling in love with her himself. I didn't find this premise boring. I was eager to turn the pages, to see what else they would be doing. And not only the main couple made me curious, even the brother was curious and had a story to tell. I thought this was quite the entertaining story and well presented.

Edward wants to stop the family from social ruin because his brother was caught in a compromising position. He is the head of family, sometimes serious but quite passionate. He starts falling for Florence almost immediately but only realizes it later on. His character is responsible and trustworthy. He acts believing he has to put his family's desires and well being above his own but it comes to a point he can't ignore his feelings anymore. I was thrilled when this happened and it such a passionate scene when they first kissed...
Florence only wanted a man to provide for her, someone caring at least. She became friends with Freddie and at some point entertains the idea of marrying him indeed but after finding out why he wasn't as eager for that as her, she seeks help somewhere else because of a misunderstanding. She is quite lovable but I wish she could have shown some more spirit at times. Still, I can't really blame her, after all she finds out her intended is gay, that Edward's family tricked her and that she is in love with Edward...too much to take at the time the action takes place, I suppose.
Things work out in the end and I liked how things went until the happy ending. It wasn't easy but it wasn't either as melodramatic as that. In my opinion the romance was quite well done.

There are several secondary characters portraying their role and although some are to be expected, the jealous mistress, the angry older woman, the helping aunt...and the gay brother, all of them helped enhance this story and making it pleasant for me. I was quite positively surprised to see a f«gay relationship mentioned and shown and part of the main plot. It was interesting and not as badly done as one would expect. It was sweet and special. So, I guess in the end, this is what matters, it did work for me, so I have to think good of it.

In the end, I finished the book with a smile, it took me one day to read it, how eager I was to see what would happen next. I know there's a sort of sequel with different main characters, I can't wait to read it and see if these show up and if it's as addictive as this book.
Grade: 9/10

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