She's got nothing left to lose…
With her fiancé suddenly engaged to another and her reputation in tatters, Merribeth Wakefield needs a bold plan to reclaim her life. She must be brave. Confident. She must … kiss a rake? The suggestion is ludicrous! Yet when Merribeth finds herself alone with the dark and brooding Lord Knightswold, suddenly the plan doesn't seem so farfetched. So she does something she never thought she'd do—she kisses him.
But he has everything to gain…
The Marquess of Knightswold—Bane to most—has no use for the affections of women. Well, none lasting longer than a single night. A plot for revenge weighs heavy on his mind, leaving no room for romance. But then a shy, witty miss borrows a kiss from him in a darkened room, and everything he thought he knew about innocent debutantes vanishes along with her.
When a twist of fate brings Merribeth within Bane's grasp, he'll have to resist her charms—or risk losing everything—for the sake of his heart.
In "Daring Miss Danvers" we see Merribeth anticipating a proposal from her long time beau Mr. Clairmore. "Winning Miss Wakefield" opens with Merribeth dealing with the fallout when that man basically rescinded their understanding to marry a vicar's daughter. Much speculation is made whether he even thought about how that would reflect on Merribeth--who was publicly making plans for her wedding and future with him. Personally I think he was just too much of an idiot to take note.
In comes Merribeth's guardian, her Aunt Sophie and her friend Eve. Eve's advice is simple--make Clairmore jealous by flirting with a rake. Kissing said rake would be even better in fact. And thus does the story take off.
I really enjoyed this book. Merribeth is a bit of a goose at times, but I loved her and Bane together. Bane is, from the first moment he shows up ready to take his inheritance from his cruel miserly grandfather's cold dead hands, an intriguing vexing man. Lorret does one thing really well in her heroes--they tend to realize their feelings for the heroine first and then realize they aren't good enough for said heroine. Bane is no exception. He figures out early on what Merribeth means to him (even if he doesn't say the "L" word) and its a fight for him to do what would make her happy in the long run.
I do think his revenge plot was a bit ridiculous, but given how everyone described his grandfather maybe not.
Merribeth meanwhile really just needed someone to give her a stern talking to about what she wanted. What she really wanted. I was disappointed that her friends (Emma, Delaney and Penelope) have a much reduced role here. It makes sense, but at the same time I really think Merribeth needed her friends to snap her back into reality. Also support, as her Aunt Sophie meant well but was much too practical of a woman to understand Merribeth's problem and Eve...well. She never comes across as trustworthy in my opinion.
As a continuation of that set of friends' romances this was a good addition. Delaney, who is missing at the end of this book (off to Scotland), gets her romance in the next one and I have to wonder how that will turn out. We're briefly introduced to her love interest (Mr. Croft) in this book, but as no one seems to have a good opinion of him I have to wonder what occurs to put Delaney in such a snit.