Sunday, December 26, 2010
BOOK REVIEW: Impoverished Miss, Convenient Bride By Michelle Styles
Harlequin Historical Jan 2011
By Michelle Styles 282 pages
BLURB ON BACK OF BOOK:
His unexpected bride… Wealthy landowner Simon Clare shuns Northumbrian society. With his son gravely ill, the last thing Simon needs is an interfering woman assuming command of his household and nursing young Robert – no matter how sensuous her figure, or how tempting her luscious lips.
Phoebe Benedict knows what it is to struggle, and finds herself drawn to the badly scarred recluse. Despite his tough exterior, she knows that Simon is a father who yearns for his son to recover – and a man who misses the tender embrace of a woman…
This book by Michelle Styles is a sequel to last month's A Question Of Impropriety, this book focuses on Simon Clare, brother of the heroine Diana Clare of Impropriety.
Simon, thanks to an accident in the previous book, is now scarred and wearing an eye patch, and leaning heavily on a cane. A snappish, reclusive widower, Simon finds it hard to cope with a gravely ill 10 year old son, especially now his sister is married and moved away.
I was rubbing my hands together in anticipation, a 'beauty and the beast' scenario, I love those. And Michelle Styles did not disappoint.
Since Diana cannot fulfill Simon's demand for help, she sends along her husband Brett's cousin, Phoebe Benedict. She is indeed, an 'Impoverished Miss'. Phoebe finds the household is floundering, along with Simon and his son Robert. Phoebe immediately takes charge of nursing Robert, and shows no compunction to standing up to the gruff, standoffish Simon. I liked Phoebe right away, she hasn't had it easy since her father died, responsible for her step-brothers, dealing with dwindling funds and possible ruin. Phoebe takes this position in the Clare home to ensure Brett's assistance in getting one of her step-brothers a good commission in the army. Self-sacrificing, generous and willing to go toe-to-toe with Simon, Phoebe made a great heroine. An angel of mercy with a spine of steel.
Simon has not had it easy as well. A man of secrets and doubts, a man obsessed with machinery, (which caused his accident) forgetting perhaps how to deal with people. And women, specifically.
For all his infirmities, Simon just oozes virile masculinity, and affects Phoebe right away.
Any scenario where a woman comes into a man's home as a governess or nurse, begs comparison to the classic Jane Eyre, and there are a few elements of that here.
While Simon does not have an insane wife in the attic, there are questions surrounding his first marriage. His reluctance to speak of her, or let her name be mentioned around Robert piques Phoebe's curiosity. Phoebe of course, assumes it is because Simon still loves the woman, and cannot bear to speak of her because of his heartbreak. Not so.
During one of these toe-to-toe encounters, Simon can not longer fight the attraction he feels toward the voluptuous, outspoken Phoebe, he grabs her and kisses her quite thoroughly.
Now he has done it. Since he is at his core, a gentleman, Simon makes Phoebe an offer to make her a 'convenient wife.' She has already proven she can run his home, deal with his unruly son.
And the physical attraction, is just icing on the cake.
Simon is a great, tortured hero. His past heartbreak and disappointment, and his accident all add to the 'beast' aspect of the story and his character. And the fact that underneath all those tortured, fascinating layers is a stunning, passionate man rounds him out nicely.
After the quickie marriage, Simon is quite attentive in bed, but remote and distant otherwise. He still spends most of his time with engines.
As a ball approaches, Phoebe is near giddy at the prospect of having Simon to herself for a few hours. But fate intervenes and there is a serious accident at Simon's colliery, and Simon must be part of the dangerous rescue.
An exciting ending concludes the book, with Diana and Brett from 'Impropriety' making an appearance.
A richly satisfactory happily ever after for this 'beauty and the beast' couple. Deeply felt, romantic read, I heartily recommend both "Impoverished Miss' and "Impropriety."
3 and 3/4 stars out of 4 for the book