The Ring on Her Finger
I was just about to give up on this book when a simple turn of the page changed everything. I’ve not read this author before, and her style grated on my nerves to the point I was ready to put this book down and avoid it forever. But a subplot caught my attention, sucked me in, kept me reading, caused me to reassess my original evaluation, and ended up with me enjoying this book immensely.
Wealthy socialite Lucinda Hollander is in trouble. She’s just gotten engaged to a guy named Archie who shoves a huge, ugly diamond ring on her finger before he jumps out the window, the cops hot on his heels. When the Feds show up intending to arrest Lucy, she follows Archie out the window and into hiding. Not hiding with Archie; she doesn’t know where he’s gone or why the cops were after him. She didn’t even have time to turn down his marriage proposal, but since she can’t get the ring off her finger, she decides to call her best friend to help her hide out until the whole mess can be straightened out.
This was the “madcap heiress” foundation on which the story was based, and I thought it was pretty dumb seeing as how it made no sense for Lucy to do something so stupid, seeing as how madcap is one thing and downright stupid is something else entirely. Which brings me to another problem. Seeing as how this very phrase was used countless times throughout the story, and seeing as how it is considered grammatically incorrect and even offensive, I got tired of it but quick.
Moving on, Lucy’s friend Phoebe owns and operates a wildly successful national chain of maid services, so, to make a long story short, Phoebe sends Lucy to Kentucky to work for the Coves, an obscenely wealthy couple. Phoebe does this because her mainstay phrase in life is WWDD. Now, WWDD means What Would Dino Do? Dino. As in Dean Martin. Any reader under the age of fifty may have trouble remembering just who he was, and why a young woman of today would care what Dino might do never moved me, except to irritation.
Lucy goes to the Coves’ where she meets and falls in lust with Max Hogan, the Coves’ uber-sexy car maintenance guy. Max instantly falls in reciprocal lust with Lucy and the two proceed to dance around each other, but, seeing as how each has reasons for not wanting to sleep together, they spend page after page in mournful self-talk about why they can’t sleep with each other. It is at this point I’m ready to give the book the old heave-ho, seeing as how I can’t stand these people, their dialogue (what there is of it) or the multi-page introspections they go through.
Enter Nathaniel Finn, the Bad Boy of the Thoroughbred Racing Set. And oh, is he ever. In what was meant to be a sub-plot, this was where the book finally came alive for me. Bored, wealthy, hunky, sulky reprobate Nathaniel agrees to a bet with Justin Cove that Nate can get the prim and proper Irish nanny, Rosemary, into bed within the month. A four million dollar racehorse is at stake. Nathaniel, who has slept with every woman on the planet save for Rosemary, and who is a little tipsy at the time the wager is presented, agrees to the bet. However, when he begins to set his trap, the reader knows instantly just who is going to be caught in that trap, and that the devout rake has just met his match in the sweet, smart, engaging heart-of-gold Rosemary. When she discovers Nathanial’s deception, her response is one of the best I’ve ever read. You go, girl! I was cheering for Rosemary, and so will you.
The author’s too-cute-for-me writing style and humor-that-fell-flat-for-me dialogue and page after page after page of internal monologue eventually fell away to a story about four individuals who are basically nice people who have been caught up in circumstances that led them to believe they were unworthy of love. It is to this author’s credit that I ended up liking a book I was really hating there for a while.
Lucy is a very nice heroine who faces her own demons and who is loyal and true. She deserves Max Hogan, who was once a really bad, bad boy, but who learned his lessons and who has let guilt and remorse shape his life. Lucy and Max are a perfect couple. As for Nathaniel and Rosemary, the sexual tension between the two of them is piping hot, and my only disappointment is that we don’t get a love scene between them. The love scene Lucy and Max share is very nice indeed, but all my chips were on Nathaniel and Rosemary and I didn’t get the payoff I’d hoped for. Nevertheless, Nate and Rosemary are a solid couple and I was rooting for them the whole way.
Seeing as how I had so many problems with this book, I was glad I stuck with it. Max was described as insouciant – on no fewer than three occasions – and even crosses his ankles insouciantly, and if any man I know ever thought that of his own actions, I’ll eat my hat. However, the rest of the time, Max is a great hero and he can change my oil and fiddle with my carburetor any time he wants.