Publication date: December 31, 2007 (first published August 7, 2984)
Publisher: Signet Regency Romance
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The title says it all.
Miss Claire Carrington has been raised by a rather unique spinster aunt, who had the effect of giving her a frank manner of speech, no tonnish manners and behaviors, a love of adventure, and a desire to maintain her own independence and not marry. Upon eavesdropping on a conversation in which the heiress Claire claimed she did not want to marry, Andrew Tyson, the Marquess of Blaydon, concocted a scheme to have a fake betrothal to escape his marriage-minded mother. Claire was delighted to be of help to Andrew, but made terms that they must not fall in love with each other. Thus begins the not-so-courtship friendship between Claire and Andrew, leading to a singular love.
Claire and Andrew are unique characters who are both stubborn and unyielding at times. Claire, with her unusual upbringing, constantly scandalizes the ton and Andrew. In their initial meetings Andrew tries to conform Claire to "normal" behaviors - ballroom dancing, wearing fashionable clothing - while Claire slowly grabs at his heart with her kindness, intelligence, and devotion to her painting. One of my favorite scenes was when Andrew learned of how formidable his dear Claire - confronting a thug with a pistol - and he realized that he is no match for her uniqueness. The first half of the book told of their relationship from stranger to friend, to best friend and eventually realizing their love for each other, while the other half involved Claire's refusal of Andrew and their reconciliation with the help of one very good Duke of Severn.
All in all, this was a delightful read, and I especially enjoyed Claire's character as one of "worldly innocence." For someone to be so well-read and yet innocent in the dealings of the heart was an ingenious combination, and one I've come to love. I initially thought Andrew to be too rigid and set in his ways, but he slowly warms to Claire's unconventional behaviors and falls deeply in love with her. When his past is revealed, it shed light on how Andrew lost what would have become amusement and love had Claire not come by. The other important character, the Duke of Severn, was such a supporter of the two that I can't wait to read his own story in The Dreadful Duke.
I am extremely glad to have found a copy of this book, and sincerely wish that it could be made available on e-formats so more readers can enjoy this wonderful story.
Rating: 4.5 tulips