Skip to main content

Review | A Dangerous Proposal by Jillian Eaton

It has been a very lovely year thus far when it comes to new-to-me authors. Some years are like that, while others (I'm thinking of last year in particular) are often quieter and filled with familiar voices. Both are wonderful. But I confess to being rather thrilled that this year has held so many new authors. As part of my previously mentioned (and apparently ongoing) historical binge, I recently ran across the work of Jillian Eaton by way of her Bow Street Brides series. Side note: I find myself reading about many brides this year. Brides are positively in abundance, especially around Bow Street and Belgravia. A Dangerous Proposal is the second book in the series and my clear favorite so far. The third book just released in March and is sitting on my Kindle waiting to be started as I type this. This series involves a number of mysteries featuring interlocking characters, and I very much enjoyed that aspect of it all.

Felicity Atwood does not recognize her life. The whole of it went so suddenly and so irrevocably south that she and her two young children are still struggling to pick up the pieces. Though she remains Lady Ashworth, she is no longer married to Lord Ashworth. The divorce took care of that. Now he lives with his new wife (and former mistress), while Felicity and the children he no longer wants anything to do with are forced to get by on their own in the decidedly dodgier part of town. Enter one Mr. Felix Spencer, former jewel thief turned Bow Street Runner. Felix and Felicity first met months ago as part of a theft in the home of Scarlett―Felicity's sole remaining friend. Felix was naturally doing the thieving and managed to nick one quick kiss off a very startled Felicity on his way out the window. Neither would be able to forget the incident. Now he is reformed (somewhat) and determined to keep the young single mother safe now that her circumstances have been so drastically reduced. And if Felix has his way, he'll also be able to convince her to give love (and him) another chance as well.

What an unexpectedly sweet story. It's quiet and thoughtful and ever so genuine. Felicity is so easy to feel for. She has had nothing but bad experiences with the men in her life, from a terrifying and damaging encounter years ago with Scarlett's dissolute husband to her own husband's omnipresent coldness and eventual blank betrayal. I didn't once question her reticence in the face of even Felix's determined charm. And he is nothing if not charming. Felix is a delight from cover to cover. Full of roguish, persistent kindness, he is the perfect person to quietly enter their lives when Felicity is at the end of a long and wearying road. And so a gentle courtship commences against the backdrop of the Runners' investigation into a series of murders around Felicity's new home, one that stretches its tentacles back into both of their pasts. The balance between mystery and relationship development was just right, and I hoped and feared equally for these eminently likable characters.
What are ye afraid of?" he murmured, the bristle on his jaw scraping against her cheek as he rested his chin on the sloping curve of her shoulder.

"I am not afraid," she said, but they both heard the lie in her voice. She began to stiffen, to draw back, but on a soft, whispering sigh she let herself relax against him. After so many months―so many years―of nothing but coldness she needed warmth. Like an untended flower that had grown too long in the shade she desperately yearned for the sun. For the heat it gave, and the comfort it brought. For no matter how deep the dark, the sun would always find a way to rise again. And when it did its light would be brighter and reach further than ever before.

"I am not afraid," she repeated as tears gathered. "I am not afraid."

"Ah, love." Felix's embrace tightened. He began to sway from side to side and she swayed with him, a dance where the only music came from the rhythmic beating of their hearts. "I know ye have no reason to trust me. No reason to believe a bloody word I say. But I want ye to know I'm not him. I won't hurt ye. I would never hurt ye."

"I know," she whispered as a single tear spilled down her cheek. "I know.
This level of gentle sweetness runs throughout the novel, and I found it (and them) utterly disarming. Felicity's children, Henry and Anne, their interactions with her mother, the intriguing crew of Bow Street Runners, and Felix's way with the whole lot of them are engaging and lively. I heartily recommend A Dangerous Proposal for your next cozy night in.

Tell Me More

Comments

You Might Also Like

Blog Tour Review + Giveaway | Lady Derring Takes a Lover by Julie Anne Long

I'm delighted to be a part of the blog tour for this first novel in Julie Anne Long's new historical series―The Palace of Rogues. I found my way to Ms. Long's writing in a bit of a piecemeal fashion. Her long-running Pennyroyal Green series is widely beloved and records the various and sundry escapades of the always-scheming, never repentant Eversea and Redmond families. Really, the series is worth the price of admission for the hilarious (and ever-evolving) "Ballad of Colin Eversea" alone (though Colin's is not actually my favorite book). But I've come to believe that this sweeping eleven-book series has something for every reader. You just have to dip your toes in enough times to find your favorites. And once you do, they will become instant and confirmed comfort reads. Spoiler alert: mine are It Happened One Midnightand What I Did for a Duke. I'm sorry, Colin, but the Duke of Falconbridge, you are not. You'll be just fine, though. Madeleine ha…

Review | All the Walls of Belfast by Sarah J. Carlson

I have had a string of lovely successes with contemporaries lately. I wonder, sometimes, about the phases we go through, both in reading and in life in general and whether or not (or where) they align. I'm not always able to see the patterns amid the daily vicissitudes, but I wonder about them often. Several months ago, I saw the cover for Sarah J. Carlson's debut novel All the Walls of Belfast and thought I might have died and gone direct to heaven. The title alone is my favorite of the year, hands down. I don't even care if those are fighting words. It is the best title of the year, so there. And, happily, it has a cover to match that beauty, all orange and green and hints of the walls that make up its title. I could only hope that the content matched. Somehow I knew it had to.

Fiona grew up in America. From the time she was two years old and her mother took her and fled Northern Ireland for the unknown wilds of Wisconsin, she has believed that her father was dead. And …

Illustrated Pretties

I can't resist with these three. I love a good illustrated cover so much, and these three are not only just beautiful but include a couple of delicious retellings, a debut novel, and at least three young women who sound as fierce and determined and real as I could hope for on this International Women's Day. Put them on your calendars. I'm feeling the good feelings.

The Guinevere Deceptionby Kiersten White
This cover, you guys. This cover . . . I love it so much. And I haven't read a good Arthurian retelling in far too long. In this version, Guinevere is not at all what she seems. Summoned by Merlin to keep Arthur safe, she is a changeling who gives everything up to protect Camelot. GOOD YES GOOD.
Due out November 5th

Wicked Foxby Kat Cho
Set in modern day Seoul, this debut features a young woman who is actually an ancient being that must devour the souls of men in order to survive. Matters are significantly complicated when she saves a young man's life and thereby l…