Prim, proper, and thrifty, Eve Dinwoody is all business when it comes to protecting her brother's investment. But when she agrees to control the purse strings of London's premier pleasure garden, Harte's Folly, she finds herself butting heads with an infuriating scoundrel who can't be controlled.
HE'S RUNNING THE SHOW
Bawdy and bold, Asa Makepeace doesn't have time for a penny-pinching prude like Eve. As the garden's larger-than-life owner, he's already dealing with self-centered sopranos and temperamental tenors. He's not about to let an aristocratic woman boss him around . . . no matter how enticing she is.
BUT LOVE CONQUERS ALL
In spite of her lack of theatrical experience—and her fiery clashes with Asa—Eve is determined to turn Harte's Folly into a smashing success. But the harder she tries to manage the stubborn rake, the harder it is to ignore his seductive charm and raw magnetism. There's no denying the smoldering fire between them—and trying to put it out would be the greatest folly of all.
Rating: 4 stars
Returning to historical London we find ourselves once again wrapped up in the lives of the family and friends of some of the most interesting people. This series began with a fantastical tale of the woman that falls in love with a masked vigilante and has evolved, quite naturally, into this story of a shy and bruised young woman and the brash and larger-than-life man that steals her heart. If you haven’t been following this series, you might miss some of the undertones and relationships between Asa and his family, but overall this story stands on its own as a fabulously sensual and exciting story. The story begins shortly after Dearest Rogue, where Asa’s best friend and colleague found the love of his life in one of Asa’s employees. Asa is working very hard to get his pleasure garden and theater back to working capability after a devastating fire, but the work is expensive and complicated by strange obstacles that keep popping up. Eve is the woman that is currently holding the purse strings on Asa’s project so he is determined to get her to see that the money she is supplying, through her brother’s fortune, is necessary. The more he spends time with her, though, the more Asa begins to find Eve to be the most enticing and exciting woman he’s been around in ages. Slowly pulling her out of her shell has become his real goal, but when someone threatens not just the finishing of his garden, but the life of the woman he loves, will Asa be able to save her? And if he does, will he be able to be the man she loves instead of just the workaholic obsessed with proving his worth through his business acumen?
I loved this story because it has some many different themes that it touches on and you never know what is around the next corner for these two lovers. While the passion between them was evident in every moment, their ability to fully see one another and understand just what the other needs it what makes them a truly matched pair. Asa is an arrogant and slightly annoying man on the surface, but if you are able to look past that to the man underneath you can see that he is still a little boy trying to find his place in the world and prove his worth to his father. Once he understands that the love of his life is really the only one he needs to prove himself to, he becomes a truly terrific hero and can let go of his past to embrace his future with that love. Eve has had some real traumas in her past and they have bruised her badly, but more and more she knows that she wasn’t broken, with Asa’s help. He is able to show her that she can be independent and be a whole woman again; even strong enough to demand what she needs from her lover, even if she loses him because of it. If you are a fan of stories where a woman is able to find herself even as she falls in love and where a man can prove his true worth to the woman he loves just by being himself, I guarantee you will love this one. Honestly the entire series is full of these awesome themes and very few authors can get these points across without seeming to be on a soapbox. Elegantly written, sensuality explodes from both of these characters and Elizabeth strikes again with a truly masterful tale of loss, overcoming the past, and love conquering all. I am dying to know whose story is next, though I have my suspicions and if I’m right it will be explosive.
*eARC provided by publisher (via netgalley) for the purpose of an honest and unbiased review. No compensation was provided.