Skeptic scale: ♥♥♥♥
Best quote ever from a romance novel:
"You're from the North, and your family motto is probably something like 'Thank God for friendly sheep'."
Oh no she didn't!
He: Benjamin Hazlit, an investigator who is paid handsomely by his fat cat clients to dig into the private lives of the ton for information. He goes by an assumed name, a simple Mr., but he is actually an Earl who is keeping his title secret.
She: The illegitimate daughter of the powerful Duke of Moreland. The Duke and his wife have officially adopted her but she still feels like an outsider looking in. She is harboring a secret that threatens to unravel and destroy her adoptive family. She engages the services of Mr. Hazlit to forestall the damage if her secret were ever to get out.
What I liked:
1) The words! I liked ALL the words Grace Burrowes used. Proper Regency cant with just the right amount of bone dry wit and sarcasm.
2) A really heroic hero. He is eternally considerate of the h and he loves her for all the right reasons - at one point he even enumerates the reasons - and they are swoonworthy! "I am enamored of you ... You're gorgeous, passionate, intelligent and independent - also a financial genius." Sigh...
What I had SO many questions about:
1) I didn't really understand why he went by the assumed name Mr. Hazlit. There was some explanation given about how he wanted to separate his name from his sisters' sake because he didn't want them getting known as being a shady investigator's relations. Hmmm. Ok. So what would happen when he switches back to his real name the Earl of Hazelton. Wouldn't that be extremely WEIRD when he has to go about in society after he's just finished investigating all their scandalous secrets? It seemed weird and an unnecessary detail. He could have just been a stealthy Earl who did his sleuthing on the side. Scandalous, sure but he would be doing his sleuthing in secret anyway so it's not like anyone would find out.
2) I wanted to kick the h about a dozen times for her stubbornness in keeping her "scandalous secret". It wasn't even her scandal!
3) I didn't like how the h felt overly grateful to the Duke and Duchess of Moreland for adopting her. I see how she would feel thankful to the Duchess for being her adoptive mother, but the Duke was the one who stuck it in the wrong place so he was just doing the right thing by adopting her.
I get that most men of the time would have just paid off the mistress and forgotten about the child they had created, so we know that the Duke is more honorable than most. Good. Fine. But why the over-sized admiration for a man who had not one, but two bastards that he then foisted upon his wife. The h is supposed to be this extremely rational person so it was strange that she would have been so blinded by admiration she ended up keeping this secret so as not to rock the boat for her family.
Anyway, all these issues aside, this was a good story and so, SO well written. I love it when writers treat popular romance novels with the same respect they would show literary fiction doing all this great research and the wonderful use of language. And of course, that line about the sheep was MONEY.