After reading Enchanted By Your Kisses, it was hard to believe this was only Pamela Britton’s second novel. Her storytelling engages the reader and the characters jump off the pages with their personalities. The bad thing is now I have to wait for her next book.
Lady Ariel D’Archer was ruined at the tender age of eighteen and has been shunned by proper British society ever since. The only person who will even acknowledge Ariel is her sweet and loyal cousin Phoebe. Two years after the scandal, Ariel agrees to return to London with the now married Phoebe and finds that society has a long memory.
Nathan Trevain couldn't care a whit for British society; in fact he hates everything about it. The only reason he returned from the colonies is to rescue his younger brother who was forced into service by the British Navy. To do that, he needs help and who better to help him than the outcast daughter of the First Lord Admiral. After meeting Ariel at a party, he suggests he help her thumb her nose at the people who have mistreated her. He tells Ariel all he wants in return is to pretend they are engaged to get his uncle, the Duke of Davenport off his back. What Ariel doesn't know is Nathan’s secret, nor how far he is willing to go to rescue his brother.
In the prologue, explaining Ariel’s ruination, Britton starts the book in the best way possible, with a laugh. At one point during her fiancé Archie’s clumsy attempts at lovemaking, Ariel is put to mind of someone’s poodle, which, shall we say, got rather intimate with her leg once. It was very funny, and painted the perfect picture of what was going on. It wasn't the last time the story made me laugh aloud either.
Ariel is the type of heroine a reader can't help but pull for. She’s sassy, without being bratty. When she’s kidnapped, she’s no whiner. Her attempts to escape are calculated and not just “feisty” foolishness. Ariel’s best quality though, is her ability to see from someone else’s point of view. Where other heroines would just sulk about their situation, Ariel stops to think how Nathan must feel about losing his brother. She realizes that she is in a position to help him, and does so, though not without plenty of her wonderful wit and sarcasm. That’s what really makes a reader like Ariel, she can give as good as she gets, but she’s never mean spirited about it. The reader wants her to triumph over the snobs who have dismissed her and more importantly, wants her to get Nathan.
Who wouldn't want to get Nathan, the dark, mysterious patriot? Britton creates him as a fully three-dimensional character. Readers can just picture him over in the colonies fighting for independence. Who needs Mel Gibson! He’s been betrayed by a beautiful woman, therefore no longer trusts them. Nathan rises above the typical one-woman-bad-all-women-bad attitude. Sure, he is suspicious of Ariel at first, but then he actually pays attention to her actions and bases his trust of her on them. His groin also doesn't rule him constantly. You know, never able to think of Ariel outside of what she must be like in bed. That alone was enough to make him rise to the top of many romance heroes.
Britton takes what is a somewhat typical romance novel premise, and turns it around into something fresh and entertaining. There were many times where she could have very easily slipped into the convenient clichés but she neatly avoids them. In one scene after Nathan kidnaps Ariel and is on his way tie her up in the master bedroom, I thought for sure this was the big “furious-at-being-kidnapped-but-the-hero-is-turning-me-on” scene. Instead Britton makes it comical as the dilapidated house falls around Nathan literally at every step. Nathan’s frustrated pique was, and he'd probably hate to hear this, positively adorable.
The only flaw in this otherwise outstanding book was that it could have done with some more careful proofreading. There were a couple missteps that should have been picked up in the editing process. In the beginning the reader is told two years have passed since Ariel’s scandal, which would make her twenty-years old. Later though, when Nathan says his brother is twenty-one Ariel comments that he is only one year younger than she. The other is when Nathan and Ariel are making love. Britton writes that Nathan takes his time because he knows Ariel is a virgin, but a few sentences later he is described at being shocked that he has broken her maidenhead. These small nits were easily overlooked though in a story as captivating as this one.
The epilogue was a bit gratuitous, reading like a neat set up for a sequel featuring the next generation Trevains. I can't fault it though, because it did my heart good to know that Britton has some more stories waiting to be written. Now I just have to get my hands on her first novel.