Summary- This was book 1 in the Huxtable series. Vanessa is a widow. Elliot is heir to a Dukedom. Elliot has also just become the guardian of Vanessa’s younger brother Stephen. Elliot decides he needs a wife and a Huxtable sister would kill two birds with one stone. Elliot had planned to ask the oldest sister, Meg, but Vanessa proposes to him first.
They marry. They fall in love. And they live happily ever after. And have lots of very passionate sex.
My rating- B
I read the Huxtable series out of order. I started with book 2. I then read 3,4,1, and finally 5 (I will be writing a review on that one very soon).
This book had a very slow start. I had a hard time getting into it at first. Elliot shows up in town and there is a lot of back story while it is explained that Stephen is the new Earl of Merton and how that all came about. Once I was midway through disc #2 (I read this on audiobook) I was hooked.
My biggest complaint about this book was that there was a lot of story missing. Vanessa was previously married and we get some information about her husband but in truth I think they should have had a book to themselves (I don’t think they do but I could be wrong) or had a less interesting back story. I found myself more interested in the story of Vanessa’s previous husband than in her story with Elliot. Her previous husband had been a friend of hers who was dying of consumption and she married him to make the rest of his life happy. And she succeeded.
Elliot spends a good portion of the beginning of the book wanting to get back to his mistress but they had very little time together in the book before the separation and I felt like we should have known more about him and her. With romance novels dealing with a mistress can be a slippery slope I think. The best book I have ever seen it handled in was “A Year and A Day” by Virginia Henley. In Henley’s book the mistress and the hero get enough time together for us to understand why he is all too happy to be rid of her. I thought more back story about Elliot and his mistress would have helped Balogh’s novel.
This book also begins a long dramatic story with cousin Constantine. Elliot and him are bitter enemies and Stephen is taking a title that would have belonged to Constantine if he wasn’t illegitimate.
It is not very clear why Constantine and his cousins (minus Vanessa) become close and I feel like that could have been addressed as well.
Of all the Huxtable books this was my least favorite. I never really got to like Elliot much and I was sad that Meg, Kate, and Stephen were not developed enough to really be the characters I fell in love with in the later novels.
It seems I have said a lot in criticism of this book. So let me be clear that it was a decent book. I haven’t yet read a truly bad book by Balogh.
I liked Vanessa’s back story. She was a likable character. There were several situations where Vanessa and Elliot had misunderstandings and those were very well done. I hate romance novels where misunderstandings that keep a couple apart are small and petty. Elliot being upset that he is being compared to her dead husband and that she was weeping for her dead husband was a realistic issue that the story needed to address.
I also liked that Vanessa is not pretty. She is not the first Balogh character to find love and not be pretty but I find it very refreshing nonetheless.
I am glad that I didn’t read this book first. The others were better. And this book is very closely connected to book 5 so I felt like reading this book then book 5 right after helped me to better understand everything. I would not have wanted to wait for years between the books if I had bought them when they came out and read them in order.