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I enjoyed this book a lot. It's an old school romance, the likes of which I hadn't seen in quite a while. Cheryl Holt's writing style ensnared me right away, and I was easily drawn into the story. The plot was engaging, strewn with a heartache and turmoil, and characters that inspired my empathy. The author tells a compelling story that I found myself unable to put down.

The story opens with Emmeline being delegated by her neighbors to go to London and appeal to Nicholas, the new Lord Stanton on their behalf. The estate is in sorry shape, and the tenants are being hard pressed by an uncouth estate agent. They don't realize that their new overlord is a very bitter man. Nicholas had some valid reasons for neglecting his people and the estate that held bad memories for him. When the indignant Emmeline shows up at his doorstep to make her complaints ... they get off on the wrong foot. Then when a hostile Nicholas, along with his brother Stephen, journeys to the estate, things went from bad to worse.

There is no easy way to say this, Nicholas was not a nice man at first. He makes an already intolerable situation much worse for Emmeline and her two young sisters. Then his conscience makes an appearance (I had wondered if he even had one), and he tries to make it right. Then like the hound dog that he was, he started lusting after Emmeline. He uses his wicked ways to get her into bed. Truthfully, she was an innocent and never stood a chance against the worldly Nicholas. She didn't put up much of a fight either, because she thought they had a relationship. In reality, her lover had a spoiled fiancée back in London. Things get out of hand, leaving Emmeline with a broken heart and a ruined reputation, while Nicholas heads back to town with the fiancée.

Nicholas was a hard man to like, there were times that I wondered if he could be redeemed; or even if I wanted him too. Alas, in every romance novel the guy is going to get the girl. In this book the journey to a happy ending was paved with heartache.

The author did an excellent job with character development in this book. She would have to if I were to ever sympathize with the hero. She did that by delving into the man’s past, so that the reader could come to understand why he acted the way he did. She also made the plot more entertaining with a romance for Stephen and a local widow, Josephine. It was the second romance that almost stole the show, as Stephen was a more pleasant man, who didn't think women were his for the taking. I honestly enjoyed their romance much more.

The story was entertaining, with an element of suspense that kept driving the plot forward. There were a couple of villains with very nasty intentions that culminated into some climactic events that spiraled out of control. As expected with a Cheryl Holt novel, there were a few steamy love scenes. Finally, and most importantly, the hero was redeemed in the end, giving this reader a gratifying ending.

Overall, it was an entertaining book. I always enjoy Cheryl Holt books, and this one was no different. I am happy to recommend it to historical romance readers.

Book Blurb for Nicholas

When a haughty Lord meets a determined Miss the only winner is love.

Captain Nicholas Price is a man with a plan. As the newly minted Lord Stafford, he is determined to have the best of everything. Clothes, horses, women. He is well on his way with a well-born fiancée and an estate in the country.

Miss Emeline Wilson is a woman on a mission. Forced into penury by the cruel estate manager of the indifferent Lord Stafford, Emeline is determined to confront the new Lord with his callous ways.

When they finally meet, sparks fly, and Nicholas finds himself knocked for a loop by the feisty, intelligent, and definitely not high-born Miss. But what’s an already engaged Lord to do when the plans he’s so perfectly laid out for his future suddenly seem so wrong? 

Warning: This book features an arrogant Lord, a determined Miss, and plenty of steamy moments between the two.

Night Owl Reviews Jul, 2013 3.50