Miss Cecilia Hastings has succeeded in achieving what every young lady hopes for in her first London season--in duplicate. She has caught the eye of not one by two of England's most elligible bachelors. Both Jeremy Batterley, Earl of Henley and Richard Huxley, Duke of Wexford are handsome, wealthy and kind, the epitome of English gentlemen. But Cecilia doesn't want proper; whe wants passion. So she issues a challenge to her youngt lovers: a kiss, so she may be able to choose between them.
Friends since childhood and compatriots on the fields of Spain, Jeremy and Richard have found that falling for the same woman has set them at odds with one another and risks destroying their friendship forever. But a surprising invitation to a late-night garden tryst soon sets them on a course that neither of them could have anticipated. And these gentlemen quickly discover that love can take many forms.
It is a known fact that the London Season has stood historically as the great marriage mart of the Western society and the aristocracy that founded and ruled it year after year was religious in seeing to its vitality and continued existence. Into the fray came young men and women--well, some of the men were young, seeking a spouse, a bearer of children, a financial "leg-up" or a bail-out after riotous living and its resulting debt. If the gods of the London Season smiled on the "beautiful people" then there were one or two Incomparables--young women who were so beautiful that their entry into a salon or ballroom was enough to paralyze everyone in awe stricken wonder. Such a woman was Miss Cecilia Hastings, a young woman who not only looked stunning but whose manners and deportment were flawless and whose clear-eyed gaze had only to fall on a young man and he was, for all intent and purpose, smitten. In the case of this particular maiden, two of London's most eligible aristocrats have fallen head over heels in love with her--and they are best friends. Oh my . . .! And not only that, they have been best friends most of their lives and this mutual fixation is threatening to destroy them all.
This is a really fun novella--a woman who is the darling of society, whose manners and mannerisms are the joy of the watch dogs of the ton, and who enlivens every party she attends--yet in private, she is absolutely determined to do her own thing. She actually has responded to both of these men . . . their bodies touching hers during the waltz has resulted in that heated "zing" no one else can spark. Yet which man should she choose, and how can she insert herself between two of London's finest without destroying their regard for one another? Will this not eventually cause her future husband to resent her?
This novella is about individuality in the face of crushing social pressure, knowing one's own mind and find creative ways to be one's own person. It is about trust and the depth of love, insisting on having a relationship that may have to remain hidden, but without which one refuses to live. It is well-written with believable characters and a very good plot and storyline. It is one of those shorter literary works that is fun to read, satisfies the romantic in readers, tantalizes the imagination, all within a historical context. Good writers know how to do that and I think it has been done well here.
So I recommend this novella as a fun read, not taking up an extended amount of time, but manages to be one of those literary treats that fits well into a busy schedule. I give it a rating of 4 out of 5.
This novella was released by Carina Press on 08 November 2010.