Millicent "Missy" Armstrong is entering her third London Season, but not for lack of suitors. Since her debut three years ago, Missy has received twenty marriage proposals. But she is interested in only one man--her brother's best friend, James Rutherford. As a child, Missy looked up to James. As a grown up, her admiration has blossomed into the longing of a beautiful, sensuous woman, and she won't rest until James admits his love and desire for her . . .
James Rutherford rues the day he let his physical weaknesses get the better of him by kissing Missy. His best friend has made it clear that Missy is off limits, and though he avoided her for three years, he hasn't forgotten the feel of her soft lips pressed against his, and it seems neither has she. For no matter how much James tries to discourage Missy, he keeps winding up in her arms, sharing heated caresses that promis the most delirious pleasure.
I would be very surprised if there are any females on the planet who have not experienced an overwhelming "first crush" on a luscious male during those later teen years. Many of those high school crushes turn into genuine love that lasts a lifetime. Most don't. But everyone who has experienced one knows that the feelings they invoke are like a force of nature. Anyone who has gone through this experience also knows that is is the "can't sleep, can't eat, can't think about anyone else . . ." phenomenon. Growing beyond those first loves can be very painful. All that being the case, Missy & James are caught in a situation that is made even more difficult by Missy's brother who, for some reason not really explained very well, he has put Missy "off limits" to James. Perhaps he is seeking a more prestigious bridegroom for his sister. For whatever reason, Missy is absolutely determined that she will have the person of her choice, the love of her life, or none at all!
James has also been catapulted into a very difficult situation. That birthday kiss was far from brotherly, and because of that, Missy became an ever-present participant in James' dreams for years following that event. Now as romance stories go, James and Missy get very well acquainted--in the intimate sense--but only about half-way through the book. And when I got to that point, I knew that the author was not going to grace the reader with an easy and anticipated "happy ending" any time soon. Lots of stuff to go through, many ups and downs for these two. This story is rife with good and bad people, other lovers whose attempt to be together bodes ill for James & Missy in a very cruel way, broken hearts, disappointments that were deeply felt as I read this story.
Missy was not always an easy heroine to understand. There were times I was really irritated at her for a variety of actions and reactions. Yet in the midst of all her human flaws, I perceived a woman who had come to terms with her own needs and living in a marriage of convenience would not satisfy any of them. She would have her heart's love, a marriage filled with love and caring, or she would pass on the whole scene. Plucky lady, our Missy. And as she grew in her own journey of self-awareness, she was able to chart her future, even in the confines of a society that was very unforgiving for anyone who wasn't male or wealthy.
So I have to say, all things being considered, that this was a book I really liked. In fact, I think is is going high on the list of books I really, really, really like. Don't know why, but I think these characters and their stories are real, believable, and they spoke to me in real, human, believable terms.
This is a debut novel for Beverley Kendall and as a first effort it can easily hold its own within the world of historical romance. I look forward to future works by this writer. There is real talent here and I think a very good grasp of both the genre and the historical context. I give this book a rating of 4.75 out of 5.