If there were ever a couple that truly fit the definition of 'polar opposites', Eve and Asa are it.
Eve's brother, Val, is financing Asa's restoration of “Harte's Folly, a pleasure garden, but Asa is running through money like it grows on trees. With Val in exile, Eve is responsible for keeping his books, and thus decides Asa's credit must be suspended. The instant Asa and Eve lock eyes, the die is cast for this very unlikely couple.
I liked the subtle chemistry between Eve and Asa and how as they spent more time together, Asa was able to coax Eve out of her shell, which gave her life more balance, more confidence, and allowed her to become more assertive and face her fears.
Asa brings an unbridled humor to the story with his gruff and unapologetic manner. But, he's also very protective of Eve and obviously likes her, even though she is now in charge of his funding.
This aspect of the story is all good and fine, but there is something sinister brewing under the surface when it becomes clear that someone is trying to sabotage the opening of Harte's Folly. Not only that, the truth behind Eve's ‘terrors’ left me with a sense of dread and foreboding.
Elizabeth Hoyt is a seasoned author with loads of accolades and always garners effusive praise from trusted, highly respected publications. So, it's always a bit daunting when I find myself reviewing for such as esteemed author. It is even more unnerving when I find myself feeling a little conflicted about the book.
I know Asa's character was 'bawdy' but it was too much for my taste, mainly because of my strong feelings about the overuse of certain words and phrases in historical romance. I think it was supposed to be funny, but after so many F-bombs, it lost its novelty. (I’m not really a prude- if this had been a contemporary romance, we wouldn't be having this conversation)
The pacing was just a bit uneven and at times the story seemed to drag on without a lot going on to hold my interest. But, as I approached the last quarter of the book, things picked up and all the pieces fell into place with a heart pounding precision. Mercy! So, despite having to wade through some of the bog, it was definitely worth the wait.
Having said all that, this is a good book, and I did enjoy it for the most part. It's a nice mix of humor, mystery, redemption and even a little retribution. The satisfaction for me was watching Eve blossom. She learns to enjoy the company of men, the pleasures of romance, and realizes her self-worth in the process.
With a series, there are always characters that rabid fans are waiting impatiently to see get their time in the spotlight, and I'm not sure if Eve and Asa were in high demand, but even so, don't let this little jewel slide under the radar. This is a solid addition to the series and builds an even stronger foundation for future installments.
SHE'S TAKING CHARGE
Prim, proper, and thrifty, Eve Dinwoody is all business when it comes to protecting her brother's investment. But when she agrees to control the purse strings of London's premier pleasure garden, Harte's Folly, she finds herself butting heads with an infuriating scoundrel who can't be controlled.
HE'S RUNNING THE SHOW
Bawdy and bold, Asa Makepeace doesn't have time for a penny-pinching prude like Eve. As the garden's larger-than-life owner, he's already dealing with self-centered sopranos and temperamental tenors. He's not about to let an aristocratic woman boss him around . . . no matter how enticing she is.
BUT LOVE CONQUERS ALL
In spite of her lack of theatrical experience-and her fiery clashes with Asa-Eve is determined to turn Harte's Folly into a smashing success. But the harder she tries to manage the stubborn rake, the harder it is to ignore his seductive charm and raw magnetism. There's no denying the smoldering fire between them-and trying to put it out would be the greatest folly of all . . .