Tempting Fate is Alissa Johnson’s second book and has one of my favorite storylines: the childhood friends to lovers relationship. Though I had a few problems with it, I liked it well enough to order Johnson’s first book, As Luck Would Have It.
Whittaker Cole, the Earl of Thurston, and Mirabelle Browning have known – and hated – each other for most of their lives. They are normally logical, rational people who cannot refrain from sniping at each other whenever they’re in the same room. Their feud is famous, as are their nicknames for each other: Mira is the “imp” while Whit is a “cretin.” During one heated argument Whit, trying to find a way to physically express himself with Mira, opts for kissing her rather than wringing her neck. The kiss opens their eyes to the simmering chemistry that has been roiling just beneath the surface for years. How they react to that knowledge and their tentative steps from animosity to love is fun to watch.
Mira’s uncle is her guardian, but he’s such a nasty piece of work that she has found refuge and acceptance with the Cole family since childhood. The terms of her parents’ will stipulates that she must spend a certain amount of time under her uncle’s roof in order for him to collect his guardian’s stipend, so he recalls her to his home for the yearly hunting house party to act as his hostess. These parties are a horrible time for Mira; the guests are drunken, lecherous lowlifes and she lives for the time she can return to the Coles and be a part of a real family. Her circumstances make her believe that she is unmarriageable and she is just biding her time until she can collect her inheritance and set up her own home.
Whit’s father was a carousing, hellfire Georgian Buck type and, since his death, Whit has tried very hard to reestablish the family name, priding himself on his honor and position. He has also done some work for his country and is tapped to look into a counterfeit ring that may be connected to Mira’s uncle. Whit’s newfound feelings for Mira make this a sticky proposition and the rumors about her uncle only make Mira more convinced that no one – especially a stickler like Whit – would ever marry her.
Tempting Fate is written in a very modern voice, something that I’m usually not very fond of in historicals, but the writing is so funny – and Whit and Mira’s verbal sparring a stone hoot – that I found I didn’t mind it much. These two, and their slowly evolving relationship, are the best reason to read this book. They are an absolute delight.
I did have some problems with several very short scenes featuring the behind the scenes conversations and machinations of some very nebulous – and unnamed – characters. These scenes were supposed to tease or perhaps whet our appetites with the mystery, I suppose, but they were just annoying. The scenes didn’t propel the action forward and left me to shake my head trying to figure out who was talking to whom and about what. And then there was one, short scene – wholly unconnected to anything – which was there only to set up the next book’s romance. I hate that.
But, in the grand scheme of things, these were small problems and didn’t significantly lessen my enjoyment of Whit and Mira’s journey. Tempting Fate is a fun ride.