Desert Isle Keeper
Resisting Miss Merryweather
Sir Barnaby Ware was introduced in Unmasking Miss Appleby as the other man in an affair that broke up a marriage and destroyed a life-long friendship. He could have been easy to dislike, but his deep remorse showed there was much more to him. It’s a rare thing when a secondary character can steal a reader’s attention so much that you almost want to see their story more than the one in the book you’re reading but author Emily Larkin understood her readers enough to give Sir Barnaby his chance to find redemption – and a well-deserved happy ending – in Resisting Miss Merryweather.
Sir Barnaby immediately regretted his affair with the late Countess of Cosgrove after things escalated too far. What he hated more was how his weakness for the fairer sex had ruined his relationship with her husband. The last time that Sir Barnaby had met with the Earl of Cosgrove, the man threw Sir Barnaby’s mistake back in his face and swore he could never forgive his disloyalty. With those cruel words the last spoken between the two men it’s therefore a surprise when, a year later, Sir Barnaby receives an invitation to visit the earl’s estate in order to meet his new wife and child. Guilt and self-hatred claw at Sir Barnaby’s resolve to face Cosgrove one more time – so much so that he almost turns his carriage around – until he sets eyes on the beautiful woman loitering just inside the border of the estate.
Miss Anne Merryweather – whom friends call Merry – can see the internal conflict written all over Sir Barnaby’s face when she meets his carriage on the road. As a guest of her cousin, the new Lady Cosgrove, Merry knows all about what came between the earl and Sir Barnaby years before. She also knows that the earl hopes to renew his friendship with Sir Barnaby and that the invitation is an olive branch. Hoping to keep the baronet from turning around, Merry plays on his chivalry to take her up to the manor house and along the way she talks about happier topics, recalling the time she’d seen Sir Barnaby in London. The more Sir Barnaby talks about trivial things such as dancing or the ridiculousness of the ton the less he is burdened by the past and a more amiable man shines through.
The happy reunion Cosgrove may have envisioned is difficult for Sir Barnaby after all of the shame he’s lived with for his betrayal. Knowing that Cosgrove has moved on with his life is a blessing but Sir Barnaby is still struggling to know how to move on with his. The awkwardness of the situation is defused only by his awakening feelings for Merry as she campaigns to prevent Barnaby from dwelling on the past. When they are accidentally trapped together in an underground cave it becomes Barnaby’s mission to keep Merry from being overwhelmed by fear. With both of their defenses down it’s impossible for them to resist the attraction that’s been simmering since their introduction. But Merry has a secret she’s reluctant to reveal. In a matter of days she will turn twenty-five and receive a magical gift from her fairy godmother that could change their lives forever.
Ms. Larkin puts Resisting Miss Merryweather firmly in the Baleful Godmother world through Merry’s family association with the fairy required to gift all the female children of the line; however the supernatural aspects are kept at a minimum to emphasize the relationship building between Merry and Sir Barnaby. From the start Merry describes Barnaby’s pain as if he’d dug a metaphorical pit for himself that he had no strength to crawl out of. She provides him with that strength by seeing him as just another victim of the late countess, who preyed on his kindness and used him as a weapon with which to hurt her husband. Their love builds naturally from Merry’s focus on the man Barnaby truly is when not shaded by his past mistakes. That it moves quickly to full declarations within a short timeframe in the book feels genuine for how well suited they are for each other.
I appreciated the full character arc Sir Barnaby travels to find his happy ending with Merry. At his core he is an honorable man and that is clear in how he treats her and considers her feelings before his own. He fights his attraction for her because he believes she is too good for a man dirtied by his actions, but when Merry is put in danger all of those fears are set aside in order to for him to be the hero she needs in that moment. I am a sucker for Beta heroes who are confident in their affection and show it not through overly aggressive seductions but by protecting and caring for a woman with all of their heart. Once Barnaby accepts that Merry is perfect for him there is nothing he won’t do to keep her safe. In the end that feeling is reciprocated by Merry in an incredible way.
Resisting Miss Merryweather is a charming, romantic novella that shows how magical life can be with the right person at your side. While it works best as a companion piece to Unmasking Miss Appleby, new readers will appreciate the traditional story of love and redemption with just a touch of fantasy even if they haven’t read that tale. The Baleful Godmother series has enchanted me from the start and I highly recommend this novella as a small taste of the greater story being told.