First a thank you to the ladies at Dear Author for drawing my name to win this ARC and review it.
This book comes with my highest recommendation. I hate reading a series out of order and I was worried since I had not read either of the books featuring Celia Recce's brothers. But I found that, other than having to piece a bit of the family history together, that it did not distract at all from my enjoyment of this book. I really love her voice and I like an author that brings all five senses into play. Like Anthony Hamilton, I love the smell of lemons too.
I loved Anthony from the first moment he stepped in and rescued naive Celia from an overly amorous suitor. It's obvious that Anthony feels something for Celia he's not entirely comfortable with or thinks he has a right to be feeling. He is what I call the Henry the Fifth archetype. The misunderstood bad boy that when called upon raises to the occasion with skill, cunning and a good sense of humor. My heart ached for him when things didn't work out in the beginning.
Celia took longer to grow on me because Celia had some growing to do herself. In another recent review, I lamented that the author seemed too attached to the characters to actually cause them pain. Not so with Ms. Linden. Poor Celia. Reading her diary entries as her first marriage spiraled into disaster was very hard. I became so emotionally attached to her at that point, I couldn't put the book down.
A year after Celia's husband of three year dies her family hosts a month long house party to cheer her spirits. Her Brother, David Reece, has been friends with Anthony since childhood and despite is horrid reputation, asks him to attend the party since he and Celia always got along well when they were younger and he'll do anything to help her out of her melancholy. Anthony knows he should refuse but he can't keep away even though he knows it would be best for all concerned. Both Celia's feelings of guilt about her choices and being an outsider to her former life in society and Anthony's struggles with his past and his feelings for her were extremely well done.
That is what Ms. Linden is such an expert at. She gets you deeply invested in the characters and their pain. You want so badly for them to be happy and to be happy with each other that even the smallest encounter has you riveted. Not to mention that the sexual tension was spot on, give you tingles, quality over quantity, perfect.
My only issue with this book was that it was a little too long. Not in word count but in plot. I was very happy with the story and how in progressed with the relationship conflicts that I really didn't feel it needed an external plot thrown in at the very end to try spoil their happiness. Perhaps it would have been better if it had been more fully integrated into the story but honestly it would have been just as great of a story without it all together.
Bravo Ms. Linden on your very well written story!
I have added both, What a Gentleman Wants and What a Rogue Desires to my wish list.