Their young Summertime friendship came to an abrupt end when Neal was forced to walk away from Thea without a word as to why. His father made it perfectly clear that their budding romance would end his life if continued, so Neal left with his cursed reasons and Thea was left with no choice but to walk away with her doubts. As their lives continued in different directions, Thea now finds herself a scandalized, disinherited widow and Neal now Lord Lyon finds himself still victimized by the curse that took so many of his kin. After much thought, Lyon has come to the decision that his lonely existence can only be tempered by having children, but for that he will need a wife. He wants a wife that will dote on their children and prioritize their well-being with the responsibilities of the home, but above all Lyon must not love her. To succeed in this, Lyon will need to rely on outside resources to find him a tolerable and suitable wife. He knows his reclusive nature will be sorely tested, but nothing could prepare him for his first meeting with the infamous matchmaker.
Thea's world revolves around caring for her two young sons. Her destroyed reputation notwithstanding, Thea has managed in raising them in a loving environment and wishes for nothing more than to continue raising them into fine gentlemen. Her own upbringing offers the tools of the trade she needs in performing successful matches among the ton, which were thought to have been impossible. When her matchmaking reputation precedes her, Thea receives word that her services are once again in need and the money could finally set up her and the boys. However, upon seeing her new client, Thea is at once sad for the young girl she used to be and frustrated that he has any effect on the independent woman she is now. She has no time for rekindling friendships best left in the past and while the money offered is too tempting to resist, her resolve softens upon hearing Neal's confessions. He needs her help and she needs his, so the best course of action is to remain ignorant of their shared connection and attraction. Much easier said than done when Thea's friend is so intent on doing her own bit of matchmaking.
Such a bewitching tale of love, loss, and the hope for redemption. The chemistry between the leads is fully engaging and creates wonderfully described scenes full of varying emotions. Neal and Thea have such tragic pasts and their development as individuals throughout the story is inspiring. The intimacy of their romance is definitely heated, but made even grander for the addition of Thea's adorable boys. Even Neal's brother and sister are hard not to like for all they've endured even while they continue their frustrating way of doomed thinking. The points-of-view between Neal and Thea are balanced and the dialogue is easy to read. It is because of all of this and more why this story is a natural page-turner and regardless of storyline predictability, I still found it all charming. The ending is quite fitting and leads beautifully into the next adventure starring Harry, but beware that for some readers it may be considered more of a happily-for-now sort of ending. I believe it depends on which characters perspective you look at it from. And now with that mysterious ending of my own, I will leave you with my highest recommendation for this marvelous historical romance.
"When a Chattan male falls in love, strike his heart with fire from above..."
They call him Lord Lyon, proud, determined— and cursed. He is in need of a bride, but if he falls in love, he dies. His fervent hope is that by marrying— and having a son—without love, perhaps he can break the curse's chains forever.
Enter beautiful Thea Martin—a duke's headstrong, errant daughter and society's most brilliant matchmaker. Years ago, she and Lyon were inseparable, until he disappeared from her life without a word. Now she is charged with finding Lyon's bride—a woman he cannot love for a man Thea could love too well.