Plot (from avonromance.com)
When a devilish lord and a bluestocking set off on the road to ruin . . . time is not on their side. Minerva Highwood, one of Spindle Cove’s confirmed spinsters, needs to be in Scotland. Colin Sandhurst, Lord Payne, a rake of the first order, needs to be . . . anywhere but Spindle Cove. These unlikely partners have one week: to fake an elopement to convince family and friends they’re “in love” to outrun armed robbers to survive their worst nightmares to travel four hundred miles without killing each other. All while sharing a very small carriage by day and an even smaller bed by night. What they don’t have time for is their growing attraction. Much less wild passion. And heaven forbid they spend precious hours baring their hearts and souls. Suddenly one week seems like exactly enough time to find a world of trouble. And maybe . . . just maybe . . . everlasting love.
Things I Loved
What didn’t I love about this book?
First, Minerva. She’s a plain, awkward geology nerd whose mother treats her like crap. She hates the way Colin uses women for sex and hates that she doesn’t even get to spurn him because he’s clearly not interested. She’s physically insecure but intellectually fierce. I relate to her a lot, obvs, and I loveloveloved that her transformation at the end was more about how she saw herself than how she looked to others.
And Colin! As I said in my review of A Night to Surrender, I love a wounded hero. Unlike his cousin, Bram, though, Colin’s wounds are invisible. He suffers from horrible nightmares (a symptom of PTSD from the childhood accident that killed his parents) and can’t sleep if he sleeps alone. He’s devastatingly handsome and kind of a screw-up. His self-loathing nearly equals Minerva’s.
I love the way Colin and Minerva find themselves falling for each other on their crazy fake elopement to Scotland (which is really a cover so that Minerva can present a dinosaur fossil, which they’ve nicknamed Francine, at a geology conference). Colin is experienced but has a rule about not seducing virgins. Minerva is curious and doesn’t want to be just another conquest. Colin starts out by “educating” her (which is not as condescending as it probably should be) and they find the heat rising exponentially with each encounter.
And I love that Colin and Minerva end up helping each other learn to see themselves more objectively. Colin’s love for Minerva makes it easier for her to see herself as a person worthy of respect, and Minerva’s love for Colin makes it easier for him to see himself as a capable adult.
Like A Night to Surrender, the secondary characters and female friendships weren’t as strong as I think they could have been. I also think that Minerva’s desire to “save” Colin veered a little too close to the “love of a good woman saving a bad man” trope for my taste. Romantic, yes, but a little disturbing when I think about it too hard.
3/4 chili peppers (1 being a step above a sex-free gentle romance, 4 being an all-sex-and-no-plot romance). Proceed with caution if you’re more Georgette Heyer than Ellora’s Cave.