Lady Grace Wyatt is content as a wallflower, focusing on scientific pursuits rather than the complications of society matches. But when a handsome, celebrated naturalist returns from abroad, Grace wishes, for once, to be noticed. Her solution: to create the perfect man to act as her suitor, and help her catch his eye. Grace’s colleague, anthropologist Sebastian Holloway, is just the blank slate she requires.
To further his own research on English society, Sebastian agrees to let Grace transform him from a bespectacled, bookish academic into a dashing – albeit fake – rake. Between secret lessons on how to be a rogue and exaggerated public flirtations, Grace’s feelings for Sebastian grow from friendship into undeniable, inconvenient, real attraction. If only she hadn’t asked him to help her marry someone else…
I received a copy of this book from Mills and Boon via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
The story begins in an unusual way for a Regency romance, five boys at Eton, awaiting punishment for various misdemeanours. How is this related to the story? Well, it’s at Eton where the ‘Union of Rakes’ is created. Sebastian, clever but frequently bullied is the first hero in this series, and he is a character that you can’t help liking.
Grace is studious and independent, her looks draw suitors, but her frightening intelligence, unusual hobby and forthright manner soon have them scuttling away for easier conquests. She is drawn to a fellow scientist, but he fails to see her as a suitable partner, something that shouldn’t bother her but does. Enlisting Sebastian her like-minded friend’s help is an act of desperation and trust and begins a story that is full of friendship, humour and romance.
The friends to lovers trope are frequently used, but the lightness of the author’s touch manages to instil something fresh into it. Grace and Sebastian are both vulnerable, and this makes them easier to like. Inevitably, their perception of each other changes. Although predictable, the mutual attraction is nicely done, and the conflicts and misunderstandings make the inevitable passionate encounter hard-won. The story flows well, with all the trappings of Regency society and excellent supporting characters, many will be the stars of other books in the series.
With many Regency romances focusing on the darker side of life, this is a refreshing change. An enjoyable way to escape contemporary problems for awhile.