Lord Nathaniel Harte, the disagreeable Duke of Beswick, spends his days smashing porcelain, antagonizing his servants, and snarling at anyone who gets too close. With a ruined face like his, it’s hard to like much about the world. Especially smart-mouthed harpies—with lips better suited to kissing than speaking—who brave his castle with indecent proposals.
But Lady Astrid Everleigh will stop at nothing to see her younger sister safe from a notorious scoundrel, even if it means offering herself up on a silver platter to the forbidding Beast of Beswick himself. And by offer, she means what no highborn lady of sound and sensible mind would ever dream of—a tender of marriage with her as his bride.
I quite enjoyed their first meeting, even if it was a bit over the top and didn’t portray the hero in the best light. After that, it seemed that the plot controlled the characters, than the other way round. It didn’t make sense why the hero would allow the heroine to stay after showing up uninvited – the vase inventory doesn’t seem reason enough since the hero wanted to donate it all in the first place. The heroine seems to act out of strong desire to protect her sister, and then backs off when danger seems at its worst.
There were some things that weren’t quite there for me. I was hoping the themes hinted at then with his father’s vase collection would be more developed. Instead, his animosity towards his father through the vases seems to dissipate entirely. There was a confrontation I expected with the villain based on the opening that didn’t happen (though I did appreciate the confrontation that did happen). The hero gives the heroine an exorbitant gift that seems out of nowhere, then it’s never mentioned again. The storyline with the sister’s courtship hints at intrigue and danger but skirts around it.
The hero was similar in description to the hero in Tessa Dare’s The Duchess Deal (without the funny swearing and entertaining evening hobby). But, it is a historical romance Beauty and the Beast retelling so maybe all such heroes will be horribly scarred from war and play lawn games indoors and have been dumped ignobly by a squeamish lady. I rolled my eyes a little at the reason for his scarring — single-handedly fighting off six Frenchmen with bayonets without getting gored anywhere essential. Could it have been three soldiers with bayonets maybe?
I hate the “I don’t want kids because no one deserves me as their father” trope.
Oh no! I just realized why the author’s name sounded familiar! Her most recent book was at the heart of a scandal with accusations of racism (that seemed warranted). I meant not to read anything by her, but didn’t look at her backlist when I picked this…