Series: Essex Sisters #4.5
Published by Avon Impulse on June 28, 2016
FINAL DECISION: A sweet repentant hero and a woman who no longer finds joy in life find the gentle possibility of love together. This novella is abbreviated but has sweetness and humor.
THE STORY: Lizzie Troutt has been left a virgin widow with a poor sense of her own worth as a woman after being subjected to a marriage where her husband preferred his mistress to her. Despite her older sister’s wishes, Lizzie just wants to be left alone to read. Oliver Berwick has come to Lizzie sister’s house party to apologize for his boorish behavior which helped brand Lizzie’s sister as the Wooly Breeder. Ashamed of himself, Oliver agrees to Lizzie’s sister request that he do two things: make Lizzie laugh and get her back on a horse. At the first look at Lizzie, however, Oliver wants so much more.
OPINION: This is a novella and as such is not as developed as a full novel would be. Despite that, I simply adored Oliver. He has developed tremendously from the young man who found himself repeating insulting remarks about others. While it is easy to sympathize with the victim of bullying, this story is about what effect bullying can have on a bully. While Oliver certainly was not the worst of his group of friends, he certainly sustained and participated in the bullying. For years, he has been ashamed of that behavior. While his shame caused him to avoid his victims, he finally finds the opportunity and the courage to apologize for his behavior. That apology and the forgiveness that flows from his victim finally allows him to forgive himself. Oliver’s recognition of his mistakes is what makes him so wonderful as a hero. He now devotes himself to caring for others. First his niece and then Lizzie. I absolutely adored how he makes sure that she eats when he sees that she is too thin and only barely picking at her food. His gentle concern and determination to seeing to her well being begins to break through the shell that Lizzie has created for herself.
The romance between Oliver and Lizzie is short but these two are sweet together.
My negatives are this: I hate the virgin widow trope and this story is no different. Also, because of the length of this novella, the romance between Oliver and Lizzie felt rushed towards the end.
WORTH MENTIONING: Indoor croquet.
CONNECTED BOOKS: A GENTLEMAN NEVER TELLS is book 4.5 of the Essex Sisters series. It can be read as a standalone as it is only tangentially related to the series. It is a spin-off of PLEASURE FOR PLEASURE, so for background reading that book is more than sufficient.
STAR RATING: I give this book 3.5 stars.