One Night With Her Best Friend by Noelle Adams
I tend to find “Friends to Lovers” stories frustrating, because of all the wangsting and passivity. Since this is quite short and only from the heroine’s point of view, it was blessedly free of most of that. It’s one of the unrequited love plots that Adams writes so well — light and quick, but nonetheless intensely passionate.
When the Marquess Met His Match by Laura Lee Gurhke
What tickled me: Goes in some unexpected directions.
What ticked me off: An uncomfortable read at times.
Who might like it: Fans of charming beta heroes.
It took me some time to warm up to this. It begins with a battle of wits, one in which significant damage is done to the hero by the heroine. Lady Belinda, a highly respectable society matchmaker, is appalled at the idea of finding a rich wife for Nicholas, the Marquess of Trubridge — she believes him to be a callous wastrel like her late husband, and she has no compunction about spiking his guns. The things that happen to poor Nicholas in this book — not all Belinda’s fault — make him seem a model of patience and sanity, which comparatively makes Belinda extremely unlikable. But the sense of growing intimacy between them was beguiling, and she does redeem herself.
Although in some ways a conventional historical romance, by the end it didn’t feel at all cookie-cutter. Nicholas is unusual for romance heroes in that although burned by love once, he puts the blame where it really belongs, rather than despising all women forevermore. And the ending was surprising and unexpectedly satisfying, nicely balancing out what had come before.