Bonny Reed is beautiful, inside and out.
A loyal friend and loving daughter, she's newly engaged to her small town's most eligible bachelor. She's happy for herself--but mostly for her family, who need the security her marriage will bring.
An old enemy shatters her illusions.
First Baron Loel cost Bonny's family her fortune. Now he's insisting that her fiancé has hidden flaws, secrets so dark that--if she believed him--she'd have to call off the wedding.
How will she choose?
When the truth comes out, Bonny will have to choose between doing what's right and what's easy. Between her family and her best friend. And hardest of all--between her honor and the love of a man who everyone wants her to hate.
“So,” said Iris, as they began their circuit. “I want to hear all about your walk with Mr. Gavin.”
Bonny chewed her lip. She suspected that she wasn’t supposed to discuss intimate matters with an unmarried friend. But she’d never hid anything important from Iris and valued her friend’s advice.
“He kissed me,” she admitted.
“Was it marvelous?”
“It was…” Bonny paused. “Iris, it was awful.”
Bonny struggled to continue. It was hard to speak the truth aloud, even to her dearest friend. “I didn’t like the way he held me, like he wanted to make sure I couldn’t escape. It didn’t feel good.”
Iris stopped in the middle of the road. Her eyes flashed dangerously, but her voice was mild as lukewarm porridge. “Call off the engagement.”
Bonny checked for eavesdroppers but they’d reached on the outskirts of town, where crumbling cottages occupied generous plots of land. The only creature paying them any mind was an old plowhorse, poking its head over a weathered paddock fence.
“What if it was my fault?” Bonny said.
“How could it be your fault? You’ve never kissed a man before.”
“Exactly. Maybe I did it wrong. Maybe I was a terrible disappointment.”
Iris, a woman of supreme fairness and decency, actually considered this argument. “Why don’t you have a talk with Mr. Gavin? Surely he wants you to find pleasure in his affections.”
Bonny shuddered. “He would be furious.”
“Then it doesn’t matter whose fault it was,” said Iris. “If you can’t talk to your fiancé about something which is, by all accounts, a necessary component of any marriage, then you’ve chosen the wrong fiancé.”
“My family needs this connection. You know that.”
“Tell your family what he did and find out if they still want the match. They might surprise you.”
Bonny wasn’t going to describe kissing Mr. Gavin to her parents. Heaven forbid. And besides, she’d feel awful if they released her from the engagement. Like a petulant child.
“None of the other young men in New Quay have courted me. Everyone says that beautiful women can take their pick of men, but…” Bonny shrugged. “Perhaps I’m not beautiful enough.”
“Bonny, if you’re not beautiful enough, then no one is.”
“Don’t be ridiculous.” Bonny silenced her friend with an abrupt wave. “Besides, it’s years too late to change my mind.”
“Let us be exact.” Iris’s voice sharpened on the last word. “It’s too late for you to change your mind without upsetting anyone. It’s too late for a change of mind to be easy or painless. But”—Iris narrowed her eyes—“it is not too late.”
Bonny groaned. “You don’t understand.”
“You find a man’s touch repulsive. Once you marry him, he’ll be able to touch you as often as he wants, whether you like it or not.” Iris slid her gaze to the horizon, her expression bland. “Quite a puzzle.”
“No marriage is perfect,” Bonny said weakly.
“Is that the lesson here?”
Bonny kicked glumly at the gravel road.
“Really?” Iris pressed.
“Can we talk about something else?”
***I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review***
I've been looking into period romances for a while and when I had the chance to review this Victorian romance, I had to take it! I'm so glad I did! Sadly, I would never have heard of this book had it not been for the publisher reaching out to me and I hate that! This is such a good book that I wish it was known more!
The author said that this story has some beauty and the beast feels and it really does! The love interest hides away in his house and our heroine is stunning and loves to read. She's also very strong willed and I love that about her. This story is so adorable and fun! I hope everyone will read it.
The writing is flawless, gives the perfect amount of details and the character development is superb! I don't really know what else to say other than this book is a must read!