5+ stars Historical/Regency Romance This was my first read by Samantha James and I loved it!
Updated after re-read 16/1/1 This book is such a hidden gem! They think she is a thief when they find her clutching her mother's necklace and when Devon wakes up sparks fly! It was funny and sweet and it was a Pygmalion story as good as they get.
Completely formulaic and unpretentious with the usual schmaltziness of oh-so-opposites, big guy-petite girl, class divide, can't keep my hands off you, dayumm it's hot in here, oops-obligations, sorry but you not wife material, villains and tons of things working against them. I think SJ likes working with the barest of characters. Some- thing far beyond friendship. Far beyond desire.
I think I spent 75% of this book repeating What the fuck am I reading right now? Sebastian Sterling, the Marquess of Thurston, finds a bleeding Devon on the streets of St. Giles. Devon comes to in the Marquess' home and is dismayed to find that the Marquess and his brother immediate assume the worst of her. It turns out that Devon wants to be a governess (her mother was a governess) so Sebastian takes it upon himself to teach her everything she needs to know- you know, like reading, writing, geography etc. During this time, when Sebastian isn't insinuating or outright saying that Devon is a thieving whore, they begin to fall for each other. But, stuffy-stick-up-his-ass Sebastian refuses to bring further scandal upon his family by even entertaining the idea of marrying Devon. For one, when Devon was injured and Sebastian and his brother, Justin needed to take off her clothes to get a better look at her injuries, they both shamelessly ogled her body, mainly her breasts. He assumes she's a whore and refuses to believe her when she tells him otherwise. She simply must be a whore because Sebastian decided to visit Devon's former place of work and witnessed her fellow barmaid tolerating men grabbing her body. I'd like to clarify that this isn't at the beginning of the book. For some reason, Sebastian's asshole qualities didn't diminish as he fell for Devon. (view spoiler) For example, later in the book, after Sebastian has spent a decent amount of time with his tongue down Devon's throat, Devon overhears Sebastian tell his brother that he's willing to pay someone to marry Devon because he worries that if she's a governess, she'll be taken advantage of by some lecherous gentleman of the ton.
He ogles Devon while she's unconscious (after telling off his brother for doing the exact same thing); he then accuses her of being a thief and refuses to believe her even though he's the one who picked her up off the streets; he only cares about how his words/actions impacts Devon if she cries. In this case, Devon needs to be the delicate innocent who breaks through Sebastian's crusty sense of duty. I honestly thought Devon and Justin's interactions were much more interesting and would have loved to see what their relationship could have looked like: one where Devon wasn't constantly reminded of how much "less than" she wasin size, in intelligence, in societal placement, in life experience, in trauma, etc.
I was intrigued by the premise, poor girl taken from St. Giles, the worst slum in London, by a rich, handsome lord, how will they make it work, because, y'know, lords aren't supposed to marry poor slum girls. Along comes the hero, Sebastian Sterling, marquess of Thurston, in St. Giles in search of his wayward younger brother Justin, who's out gambling and drinking, and most likely whoring. Justin is already home, having beaten his brother back from whatever he was doing in St. Giles, so he helps fix her up, and even ogles her boobies too. A couple of days pass, and Devon heals, and begins exploring the house, finding the library, Sebastian's favorite room. That leads to a discussion, wherein Seb decides he's going to teach her to read, and help her gain the skills to become a governess like her mother before her (it was only through Dev's own stubbornness that she wouldn't let her mother teach her, much to her shame). Then Justin shows up and the men decide they can't let Devon be a governess, at the whim of the men of the houses she'd be employed at, knowing she'd probably end up back on the streets. Then, Justin shows up again, and tells her that his brother will never marry her, because of his proper-ness and duty to the title and all that, breaking her heart all over again when Sebastian doesn't exactly argue against his brother's claims. Seb can't stand the thought of living without her, and realizes what an ass he's been, and has to fight to make amends, with her grandma's help in the end, leading to a very touching reunion and HEA.
A lovely romance about a young lady, Devon, whose mother died and left her alone to fend for herself in the slums of London. He's a stuffy but very sexy Marquess and has a bit of emotional baggage himself: his mother had been a rather promiscuous woman who had always embarrassed the family before her death and so Sebastian has sworn to himself that he will only marry a woman who will be the "perfect" bride for a man in his position. Just when he decides that he loves her enough to marry her, her grandmother turns up and takes her away. I won't be reading the second novel A Perfect Groom because I didn't like the description of the heroine and I really liked Sebastian's brother Justin.
When her youngest was six months old, two things happened: 1) she read Moonstruck Madness by Laurie McBain and scrambled to find every historical romance she could lay her hands on; 2) her older brother revealed he was writing and submitting his short stories to big-name magazines. Rejection was a dreaded word, but Samantha figured, "Well, if he can take it, so can I." That summer, she wrote not one book, but three--longhand, in a notebook, during naptime. The burning desire to write was a long time in coming--she was nearing thirty by then--but she discovered that once she set pen to paper, she couldn't stop. Samantha's brother promptly proposed collaborating on a fantasy together--alas, still unwritten... Nowadays, she's firmly convinced she's the queen of rejected titles for her books.