Plot (from avonromance.com)
Miss Linnet Berry Thrynne is a Beauty . . . Naturally, she’s betrothed to a Beast. Piers Yelverton, Earl of Marchant, lives in a castle in Wales where, it is rumored, his bad temper flays everyone he crosses. And rumor also has it that a wound has left the earl immune to the charms of any woman. Linnet is not just any woman. She is more than merely lovely: her wit and charm brought a prince to his knees. She estimates the earl will fall madly in love-in just two weeks. Yet Linnet has no idea of the danger posed to her own heart by a man who may never love her in return. If she decides to be very wicked indeed . . . what price will she pay for taming his wild heart?
Things I Loved
Okay, so: After I read A Kiss at Midnight, I knew I had to get my hands on the next book immediately. And then I discovered that the next book was a retelling of Beauty and the Beast. Beauty and the Beast is my favorite fairy tale ever (and the focus of my unpublished journal article, which I literally spent years researching). There was much squeeing.
This is basically House fanfiction set in the early 1800s. Piers is an earl who runs a hospital out of his crumbling castle by the sea. He walks with a limp, is short-tempered, and is a brilliant doctor. The gorgeous Linnet finds herself engaged to him after an unflattering ball gown and a vapid, chatty relative start a rumor that she’s pregnant. He’s apparently impotent and his father is desperate for an heir; her parents want to make sure she’s taken care of now that her chances are ruined.
Linnet, because she’s awesome, does not put up with any of Piers’s crap. He’s a total jerk to her at first (playing tricks on her, being deliberately insulting, etc.) and she fires it right back. This eventually leads to some hot sex in a beach shack during a storm (of course), and I love that Piers is responsible about the whole situation. He figures out immediately that she’s not pregnant and that she’s a virgin, and makes sure that she knows what she’s getting into before he deflowers her.
Also: scarlet fever epidemics, carriage accidents, kidnappings, puppies, adorable children, swimming.
The House fanfiction element might be a bit hard for some readers to swallow. I loved it, but then I am indeed fond of ridiculousness. It was a little more Disney than traditional in its retelling, but I also enjoy playing fast and loose with my fairy tales. And, as I said in my review of A Kiss at Midnight, this is probably not the best choice for readers who prefer rigorous historical accuracy and sex-free romance–although James seems to take fewer liberties here than in A Kiss at Midnight.
2 out of 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.