Daphne Dale never could have imagined that when she answered an advertisement in the newspaper that she would find true love. Now she has the opportunity to meet her unknown suitor, but it means traveling to Tabitha’s wedding, and into the heart of her family’s sworn enemies. Everyone knows the Seldons are terrible rakes and bounders, but Daphne will risk anything to gain the happiness she is certain is right around the corner.
Lord Henry Seldon is aghast at the latest addition to the house party guest list—one would think after the unforgettable scandal Daphne Dale caused at the duke’s engagement ball, she wouldn’t dare show her face at the duke’s wedding. But here she is, poking her nose where she shouldn’t and driving Henry mad . . . with an unforgettable passion that will turn enemies into lovers.
Boyle and I have a love/hate relationship when it comes to her romances. I've liked a couple, but by in large I don't find her as captivating as say Julia Quinn or Sarah MacLean or Eloisa James. However the premise of this series (a town who's women are cursed to be spinsters pretty much) caught my attention and thus I found myself caught up in this book.
Happily Boyle doesn't drag out the letter writing alter egos plotline too long--both Daphne and Henry are clever and quick-witted, kind of seeing what was going on. The two play a cat and mouse game, trying to ferret out information, while trying to seem uninterested, and not coming to blows (since their families hate each other). Though I'd argue it was some of the best passages when the two would convince themselves who the other was (mentally) and then try to trip the other up. Admittedly it was frustrating at times because as soon as they convinced themselves, they un-convinced themselves for this or that reason, but it was amusing most of the time.
I hadn't read the first book in this series, Along Came a Duke, though that story is eluded to in the "forward" by the author explaining the Curse that has beset Kempton. Henry is related to Preston (his Uncle, though that's a farce) and Daphne is friends with Tabitha, but other than giving an excuse as to why Daphne is constantly around the Seldons, the previous novel doesn't affect the story here at all. The other characters throughout--especially Daphne's obnoxious cousin Crispin--were all right, but not very interesting. Boyle spends little enough time with many of them to make me feel interested. Harriet and Roxley, who are the main couple of the next book If Wishes Were Earls, feature during the house party at Owle Park, but they're the only ones that stand out (in a pleasing way).
As the attraction between Daphne and Henry is based off their banter it comes around well. Daphne gives as good as she gets from Henry (including a lovely turn around near the end). I do think the book went a bit overlong in that the charade was hard to allow stand once it became obvious the two were falling in love with their non-letter selves. Plus Daphne did some thoroughly reckless things, which if she had been wrong in any way would have spelled the end for her. I understood why she did those things, but each time I wanted to shake her and ask her why she exhibited so much intelligence one moment and no common sense the next.
Overall this was a fairly entertaining novel that moved quickly. As I said the bantering is the best part, but try to ignore the illogical moments as best you can.