Romance: 4/5 Raunch: 3.5/5
“Though it might seem strange, there’s something very right about you and me. Together. Do you feel it, too?”
The sincerity, the vulnerability, in his voice touched her soul. But he was wrong about this. They did not belong together – not truly. They were from different worlds, and when she was done with her job, she would return to hers. His hands stilled as he awaited her answer.
She had to be truthful. “I don’t know if being with you is right. But I like it. I like you.”
He chuckled softly again, “I suppose that will have to do. For now.”
Redonk Nutshell: Duke falls for a scheming yet surprisingly honorable seamstress
Anabelle Honeycote has been unable to make ends meet in her modest employment as a seamstress, so she has taken to blackmailing members of the ton. She hears the things they say during fittings, and what better way to make a little extra money on the side to support her ill mother than to blackmail those passing the gossip? She loathes doing it and recognizes the distaste of the task, but she’s desperate for the funds. To save face she establishes rules for her game, attempting to keep a bit of class in an unclassy affair. Things take a turn for the awful when her plan to blackmail the Duke of Huntford over a bit of gossip involving his sister. When the Duke himself confronts her at the drop off point, Anabelle knows she’s been caught. She expects him to haul her off to jail. Instead, he offers her a chance to work it off, to dress his sister for her coming out in a few weeks. He puts her up in his home, just down the hall from his sister, and Anabelle is given a deadline on when the trousseau is to be complete. What Owen Sherbourne, the Duke, doesn’t count on is being fascinated by the who tried to blackmail him and smear his beloved sister’s name. He begins to see there is quite a bit going on behind Anabelle’s spectacles. His attraction is returned by the woman herself, but Annabelle has always been a rational person, and she knows any sort of relationship between herself and a Duke has no future whatsoever, and Annabelle is not the type to give herself and settle for less than everything a man has to offer.
I really enjoyed the debut novel of Anne Barton! This was such a romantic read. This theme is done often in the historical romance genre, and oftentimes not done effectively. Ms. Barton managed to find the fine line of making the story feel genuine and believable while retaining the romanticism of it all. She’s created an interesting character in both Annabelle and Owen, two people who are equally matched in intellect if not caste. Owen has personal opinions he needs to tackle before he can realize what he has with Annabelle. There are plenty of times I found myself wanting to slap him back to reality. Yet he is genuine in his affection for Annabelle, and the things he does for her speak in ways he himself cannot.
Annabelle keeps it real. This woman knows exactly what she’s gotten herself into, and there are few surprises that come her way in her adventures with the Duke. Well, except for the whole ERMEHGERD HE ACTUALLY LERVS ME thing. She doesn’t always understand why he’s attracted to her, but she’s thankful he is. Annabelle understands her worth and gradually comes to accept that she will take what she can with what she is given and move on when it’s time. She’s a gutsy woman, a woman who probably was decades ahead of her time.
I look forward to seeing what else Ms. Barton has coming our way in the future.
When She Was Wicked by Anne Barton