All Charlotte Highwood knows is this: it wasn’t her. But rumors to the contrary are buzzing. Unless she can discover the lovers’ true identity, she’ll be forced to marry Piers Brandon, Lord Granville—the coldest, most arrogantly handsome gentleman she’s ever had the misfortune to embrace.
When it comes to emotion, the man hasn’t got a clue.
But as they set about finding the mystery lovers, Piers reveals a few secrets of his own. The oh-so-proper marquess can pick locks, land punches, tease with sly wit . . . and melt a woman’s knees with a single kiss. The only thing he guards more fiercely than Charlotte’s safety is the truth about his dark past.
Their passion is intense. The danger is real. Soon Charlotte’s feeling torn. Will she risk all to prove her innocence? Or surrender it to a man who’s sworn to never love?
Comment: Being a fan of the Spindle Cove series by Tessa Dare, it was no surprise I'd add this 5th installment to my TBR when I realized it would be released eventually. Although it's been out for a while, I only managed to get it recently and this month I finally got to it. I was expecting a good story but I was still proved how right it felt because it did feel like a great story to me.
In this book we finally get Charlotte Highwood's story, she's the youngest sister of the Highwood family we've met in the first book in the series. Her sister Minerva was the heroine of book #2, still one many readers look up to. Charlotte was younger in that book but now that she is a grown up her mother is still trying her best to see her last daughter married even if she needs to use all the tactics she can.
This is why when the book begins, Charlotte is entering a room to advise and warn lord Granville that, being a single man with money he will be in her mother's sight as a possible groom so they should avoid one another as best and as often as possible. The problem is that in that precise moment they are alone and when they hear steps coming their way, they both hide themselves from view by getting plastered together behind some curtains while a mysterious couple has a very personal meeting. Because of this Charlotte and Granville are found by others and it's complicated to explain what they were doing. A marriage offer is then offered to Charlotte but she still thinks that if she can find who was there have an illicit tryst, then her name and Granville's can be left alone. The problem is she and Granville become quite fond of one another...
I think my little summary and the blurb don't leave much to be guessed when it comes to the plot and its more obvious developments. This is a sweet and fun romance and two main characters I was very eager to see in the page. There's something about simply liking the characters that makes the reading much easier and fluid.
The plot is interesting to read about and all the little details that one can infer from between the lines only add more "flavor" to the plot moves and decisions. I wouldn't say this is a comedy but some situations do seem funny and the grace of Charlotte's personality and Piers Granville more stoic response but firm dedication to Charlotte only make everything feel better and well done. I, for one, felt the story was quite balanced and addictive to read.
The romance was very sweet, not only because it begun in a funny way, but also because as time went by and they got to know each other better, they do seem to complement one another and that is certainly vital in every romance.
The relationship between Piers and Charlotte was romantic I think. There is a slight difference in ages between them but both see in the other someone to love. I especially liked how Piers struggled to accept he would be happy with Charlotte not just because she was a great person and would be a good wife but mainly because he would be a happier man and that would make all the difference. I also liked how we could "see" this instead of him only deciding it eventually.
Charlotte is a great heroine, she is not a complicated woman, she has a notion of what happened around her and she only tries to be fair and make those she cares about happy too, like how she promises her friend Delia a tour for them alone (even if things don't turn out to be as easy as that) or how she knows her mother would be too obvious in her matchmaking and she tries to avoid being labeled desperate or worse as some less than good people already consider herself. She, however, always looks at things with a particular humble look and that makes quite the difference when it comes to like her for who she is.
I think the author did a great job portraying this relationship, the little details of the plot and even the elements that allowed the reader to have a great time. Perhaps this isn't the author's best work but I like her voice and style and this worked out very well for me.