Miss Emma Danvers only wants to find a nice stable gentleman to marry, so she can finally leave her madcap household. Her parents are artists, with the corresponding eccentricities, and are therefore looked down on by society. Her prospects are not looking good, as Oliver Goswich, Viscount Rathburn, a close family friend, chases away all potential suitors. Rathburn states that he’s only acting in Emma’s brother’s place, but I suspect some feelings there that he hasn’t even admitted to himself.
Rathburn formerly lived a somewhat rakish life, but he changed when his father was killed in a fire. Now he secretly supports many noble causes, but is frustrated because his grandmother is holding back his inheritance until she feels he has really changed his ways. He is in desperate need of funds to finish building a hospital in honor of his father. He concocts a scheme to become engaged to Emma, one of the few people his grandmother approves of, and then plans to break the engagement after he has his inheritance. Emma agrees, surprisingly enough, because a broken engagement will only sully her reputation and even further lessen her chances to make a good marriage.
I am always leery of reading a new author, but this book was a sheer delight. Rathburn was constantly making me smile – he is an accomplished flirt, and fun, and honorable. It didn’t take him long to realize his true feelings, and I like that he decided he had to convince Emma to let their engagement be real. Emma was endearing as well. She tried so hard to be proper, but inside she burned with artistic talent and a love for Rathburn that she was fighting with everything she had.
This book just flowed along at a quick pace. It had likeable characters, a sweet romance, and two of my favorite tropes – friends to lovers and a fake engagement. I enjoyed it enough that I will read the prequel novella in Five Golden Rings, and look forward to the next two books in the Wallflower Wedding series. This is one instance where I’m very glad I tried a new author, and I highly recommend this book that left me with a big smile on my face.
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