I wanted to read this book after practically devouring the second book in the Heiresses in Love series, Upon Your Honor. I had to know more about the relationship between Gabriel's parents. I mean, it was a given considering what we are told in the second book. It was enough to tide me over, but there was a nagging sensation in the back of my head. If someone gives me a tidbit, I long for the whole story. And here it is!
So, little bit of info about me...I am a redhead. Because of this, I always feel a sort of kindred closeness to characters, more specifically women characters, who have red hair in the books that I read. I also especially love it when the characters are both red haired and named Kayla, but that is for a different time. Anyway, as soon as it is told in the second book that Gabriel's mother has red hair, I was practically scrounging Amazon for this first book. I just felt a connection to her. I also thought it would be a bit fun to see her as a young woman. She just seemed like a bit of a firecracker to me. I mean, to be married to a captain of a ship she kind of has to be. I was completely right.
While in the book she does follow the rules of society, being raised since the age of nine by an uncle who thrives on the acceptance of society's patrons kind of forces that way of life into you, she does want to be able to choose her own path. At her uncle's sudden death quite a few chapters in, you find her questioning the mourning period that is considered acceptable. She just wants to be able to rip free from the confines of the life she has lived and be able to find herself. She wants to figure out who she is, not who society wants her to be. But there is always that nagging voice in the back of her mind reminding her that the people around her are always watching for that slight misstep in propriety. And when they find those missteps, they never let you forget you made them.
I think meeting Grant Hill kind of scared a little bit as much as it almost thrilled her to meet a man of his passions. Yes, he saved her, and yes, he did treat her as a gentlemen should, but I think from the first moment he kissed her and the first moment she showed just a slight rebellion from the ways of high society, involving an awkward session for her where she woke up and found she had practically crawled atop him in her sleep, she was afraid of what society would think of her. Sub-consciously, I believe this supposed guilt followed her throughout the rest of the book. Yes, they did bed together, and both of them obviously enjoyed it, several times in fact, but I think the talk of the town made her question his true intentions. And even hers as well. All her life, or at least since being "taken in" by her uncle, and even at the convent where she was schooled most of her childhood, she had been taught that love was a frivolous endeavour. A dream. A fantasy. And once that fantasy became all too real for her and him both, it is like they both tried to deny it.
Fara and Grant have a sort of cat and mouse thing going on in this. Or, this might be a better picture, a "He/She Loves Me Not, He/She Loves Me" situation going on. They are both enamored by each other, and the fact that they do end up in bed at some point does confirm this, and it seems that both do kind of admit their love for the other person to themselves, but it seems that society's rules are so engrained in the mind's of both that neither seems willing to accept the possibility that their love might not just be one-sided. I think they are both so scared of being ultimately rejected in the end that they do not want to press the subject, but yet, when one of them doesn't press the subject, the other feels both confused and aggravated at the fact that the subject was never pressed.
It is a whirlwind of emotions, and one I would indeed have been annoyed with had I not completely adored this book. I think the way the author wrote this story just makes the whole love dilemma between the characters bearable to the point where if it weren't there, the story would be empty. It practically IS the story. And I honestly wouldn't have it any other way.
This book honestly did not disappoint at all. While the ending was expected because I had read the second book, I did not feel like I knew what was going to happen. Even in those cliffhanger moments where it was not guaranteed the characters would stay together, and the fact I even knew the outcome, I just literally couldn't breathe. In my head all I could think was that they had to. They had to be together, otherwise I didn't know what I would do. I have come to fall in love with Marie Lavender's characters throughout this entire series, and her writing seems to bring a smile to my face every time I reach that last page.