The Temptation of Grace
Sometimes it’s just nice to read a romance in which the main characters like and respect each other, even though they can hardly fathom each other. The Temptation of Grace is definitely like that – a story of people who genuinely like and support one another even in the worst of times. And the romance is darned cute, too.
Before arriving in London for the first time, Miss Iris Grace Morgan – clumsy and no social butterfly – decides she will be known as Grace for her Season, a moniker that hopefully will rub off on her behavior. Her parents educated her well, took her around the world and gave her all of their love, but did not teach her any of the social graces that a debutante needs. Her guardian Heathcliff, (yes, really) Viscount Kilpatrick (and hero of the second book in the series), says that she shouldn’t worry – she’ll make a great splash, clumsiness or no – but Iris still wishes to make a break with the past and do well by her beloved guardian and his new bride, Samantha.
Ramsey Scott, Marquess of Sterling, hates scandal. HATES it allcaps. He experienced it himself – divorced in a messy way, he disgraced his title and left his father in permanent disgust of him, and he hasn’t returned to the family estate since. This is why he’s dedicated himself to running a gentlemen’s gaming establishment named Temptation, though it’s not the kind of occupation that his impossible-to-please father would have approved of. The man sent him off to Eton at an early age when Ramsey failed to meet his required level of perfection, which is where he met Heathcliff and Lucas, his closest friends and fellow officers during the Napoleonic War. Highly self-controlled and formal thanks to the manners his father’s disapproval and violence have pounded into him, Ramsey is determined not to love again.
When Grace sees Ramsey for the first time in Heathcliff’s parlor, she’s instantly smitten – which turns her into a motormouth, something that stuns the stiff and reserved Ramsey into silence. But the ice is broken, and soon the pair find themselves mutually charmed.
As Grace stumbles semi-disastrously through her season, Ramsey watches out for her, and she continues to crush on him. They kiss once, and he is horrified and beguiled, worried that he’s betraying Heathcliff’s trust yet needing more of her. When Lord Westhouse, a man with whom Ramsey has extremely strained relations, sets his sights on Grace, Ramsey is horrified when Heathcliff asks him to act as a bodyguard to keep Grace away from him. But close proximity makes strange bedfellows. The temptation between them soon becomes far, far too difficult to ignore.
The Temptation of Grace is a charming little crowd pleaser. It absolutely captures my favorite hero/heroine dynamic: whirligig woman who doesn’t give a rip and staid, formal man who spends his time blinking at her in utter confusion.
That doesn’t mean that Grace is indelicate with the feelings even of those she doesn’t like; she wants to keep her poise but nah, she’s not gonna stop her tongue from wagging for anyone.
It’s Ramsey who has the book’s healing arc, and watching how Grace prods him out of his shell and how he comes to realize he’s worth loving, is heartbreakingly sweet.
Also terribly sweet is the book’s main message about healing and finding love again. People LIKE one another in this novel – Grace loves the servants and her quasi-family; Ramsey likes her, and his brothers in arms. He doesn’t want to squash her spirit and she doesn’t push him beyond what he can stand and they challenge one another, but not cruelly. She doesn’t scold him for his club, and he doesn’t scold her for having no filter – well, not too much. All of his stiffness melts away, and she never develops the grace she thinks she needs to display – and they love one another for it.
Heathcliff and Lucas do show up again and provide a brotherly call to arms to protect Grace, and I also enjoyed Grace’s charming, honest friendship with Samantha a great deal.
The Temptation of Grace was a sweet, sexy little delight. I truly enjoyed every bit of it.
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Lisa Fernandes is a writer, reviewer and recapper who lives somewhere on the East Coast. Formerly employed by Firefox.org and Next Projection, she also currently contributes to Women Write About Comics. Read her blog at http://thatbouviergirl.blogspot.com/, follow her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/thatbouviergirl or contribute to her Patreon at https://www.patreon.com/MissyvsEvilDead or her Ko-Fi at ko-fi.com/missmelbouvier