"Have you ever kissed a woman with a mustache, Mr. Fairchild?" She fluttered her lashes at him.
"Not that I can recall. And certainly never deliberately."
"What a shame that you missed your opportunity then." She smirked and turned toward the door.
"I do hate to miss an opportunity." He grabbed her, pulled her into his arms, and stared down at her. "Miss Merryweather." Before she could protest he pressed his lips to hers. For a moment she hesitated, then kissed him back, hard and with a great deal of fervor. At last she pulled away and gazed up at him.
"If that is how you intend to chastise me in the future, Mr. Fairchild"---her voice was breathless and she made no move to leave his embrace---"I cannot promise to restrain from activities you find objectionable."
"You are driving me mad, Miss Merryweather."
"Then I have accomplished more than I expected this evening."
With a larger page count than average, 378, I enjoyed the non-rushed feeling of the story (well, the romance felt a bit rushed). Seriously, I miss the longer books of old! Our hero and heroine don't actually meet until around 20% in, which doesn't bother me but may for some. Our heroine, Lucy, is the more flushed out character and I enjoyed the set-up of her having to complete a bucket list of sorts that her great aunt had written up for herself but never got to do. The adventures and Lucy's attitude wonderfully stayed away from overly precocious miss and eye-rolling situations. Does the whole thing fall under side-eyeing historically accurate, oh yes, but for the most part, I was willing to roll with it. There was an interesting juxtaposition of Lucy being extremely nervous during the adventures while completing them and her friends thinking her extremely bold and unconventional, I wish this had been focused on more. The adventures were a little short for me; I could have stood for them to be longer and drawn out as I enjoyed this aspect of the story.
Our hero, Cameron, was a bit less charismatic. Don't get me wrong, the dynamics between him and Lucy were refreshingly different, with Lucy being the more compelling force and Cameron being befuddled by her and generally trying to keep up with her the whole story. I don't know if Cameron got overshadowed by Lucy or if his character simply wasn't there. The lying by omission and quite frankly, wimpy avoidance of finally telling her the truth did him no favors in my eyes, either. I'm typically a hero-centric reader, so you may want to take that into account when regarding my rating.
While I enjoyed Lucy's adventures, I felt the romance fell short. The one-on-one interactions between Lucy and Cameron weren't that long and the emotion ended up missing for me. It wasn't until the last 100 or so pages that I started to get the vibes from them; this is when they started to interact more. Cameron shows up with a pretty great romantic scene but then they both dissolve into pretty immature characters, set-up I guess to stretch out the angst more. Their dialogue and actions, however, ended up feeling inauthentic to the previous way the author had written them; Lucy comes off pretty petulant. The grand ending scene actually fell quite a bit short for me compared to the previous romantic one.
This is 5th in a series but thankfully, I didn't have a problem feeling lost. There were secondary characters that obviously had previous or will have previous stories told but they only added to the story and I'm going to be on the look-out for some that intrigued me. The author has a charm to her writing and her characters have dialogue and scenes that are the reason people read romance but they were cut too short here and the story meandered a couple times. The story was a pretty clean read except for one bedroom scene, which our heroine acts extremely modern for.
This kept me reading and I found myself charmed many times but the recipe was still a wee bit off. I've read this author before and this book encouraged me to keep trying her.