I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Fifth in the Cavensham Heiresses series, you'll remember Will Cavensham as the sweet but closed off brother to the previous heroines and hero in this series. We learn that he was coldly jilted in his youth and has therefore locked his heart away for good. When his aunt tells him about her neighbor who needs their help, he's stunned by his feelings for her.
Thea has been on her own for a while. Her grandfather took her in at a young age when her parents died but in his older age and decline of health, all the estate responsibilities of Ladykyrk fell to her. Now that he has died, the new heir is also claiming that the title she inherited that makes her a countess and the rightful owner of Ladykryk, should actually go to him.
Will and Thea become fast friends but they doth protest too much about being more.
All her thoughts were consumed by the declaration that the new duke wanted Ladykyrk---her home, her life. Not only must she find a new solicitor, but also a husband.
The set-up of Thea thinking and being told she should have a husband to give her credibility and a man's added power to fight and win her claim of the rightful owner of Ladykryk was a good and all too familiar look into how women lacked certain rights at this time. What failed to work for me though, was how quickly Thea and Will's feelings for one another developed. Will is supposed to be this completely walled off man but he instantly feels a connection to Thea and is all in on helping her fight for her claim. As the reader, I just couldn't buy into his feelings or feel any depth to his emotions for Thea.
From Thea's side of things, her instant refusal to marry Will, at first simply because she doesn't want to marry the first man she meets, was confusing as there was a stated sense of emergency to the purpose she wanted/needed to marry. The plot falls apart as it was simultaneously laid out and then kind of ignored.
Her cheeks were flushed with excitement rather than nervousness. She wasn't just lovely.
She was beautiful.
Will turned to his brother. “But she's just a friend.”
This was a pretty sweet, almost tooth achingly at times, and low angst story. The pace dragged for me as most of the story was Will and Thea speaking out loud that they are only friends but then completely acting and thinking differently, it gave the story a very conflicting feel. There really isn't a reason or challenge to these two getting together (there is a last second wedge thrown in there at the very end that is resolved very quickly) and therefore their weak denials, especially when their actions are the opposite of just wanting to remain friends, slows the pace of the book way down and kind of started to annoy me with their actions.
There are some racy sex scenes in this but I had a hard time getting into them. That level of sexual intimacy didn't jive for me with how and where the characters felt to be mentally; sex added in for sex sake.
Will ran a hand down his face. He didn't think he was a playing a game, but if he was, he wished he understood the rules.
One thing was becoming clearer.
What he and Thea shared was becoming all too real.
What I did enjoy about this was how the author wrote the Cavensham family, you'll see past heroes and heroines and the author incorporates them perfectly. They never steal the show but they added some warmth and dimension to Will and some lovely nostalgia if you've read the previous books in the series.
As I mentioned, there isn't much conflict or angst in this one and if you're looking for a very slow to come to terms with what everyone else has already figured out couple, this would fit the bill, along with some open door steamy scenes.