I absolutely adore reading - my love for books has had a huge impact on my life! I'm going to grad school to be a children's/YA librarian.
Book Three in the Accidental Peer series centers on the budding romance between Lad Wilhelmina "Willa" Stanhope and Grey Preston, Duke of Hartwell. Willa's reputation has been ruined, leaving her no choice but to wait for a suitor who's likely never to come and resign herself to her looming spinsterhood. To distract herself from her less-than-perfect future, Willa blends tea that she supplies to a coffee house which employs less fortunate women, but even this past time must remain secret, as engaging in trade is not considered to be proper. Somehow, amidst all the scandal, Willa attracts the affections of the new Duke of Hartwell. However, despite the growing attraction between the two, their romance is hampered by the evil Earl of Bellingham, who refuses to allow Willa to be claimed by anyone but himself.
This romance was definitely a page turner! There was never any question that Willa would end up with the duke, who is usually referred to simply as Hart, but Quincy still managed to keep me wondering about how everything could possibly fall into place.
Willa was the perfect historical romance heroine. She's smart and longs for independence. She doesn't recognize her own beauty. She's been ruined by means of a misunderstanding and although her situation demands that she be rescued, she refuses to take the easy way out. She reminds me of several other romantic heroines that I've read about, but I like her so much that I didn't mind.
Fittingly, Hart is the perfect love interest for Willa. He's gallant yet imperfect but at the end of the day, he's exactly what Willa needs and her interests are at the center of his heart. He makes mistakes but always earns Willa's forgiveness, and his obvious love for Willa endeared him to me.
And Bellingham, the evil earl, is a villain that I loved to hate. He was SO bad!! I loved the way that Quincy introduced him to us - at the start of the book, he appears to be the love interest, but soon we learn of the absolute dread that Willa feels whenever she sees him. And when we learn why she hates him so much, we come to hate him, too. Without giving away any details, I'm happy to assure you that he meets a most satisfying end.
The plot centered entirely around the romance between Hart and Willa. Personally, I prefer romances with a bit more depth to their conflict, but Entangled Publishing requires authors in their Scandalous imprint to focus on the process of falling in love, so Quincy really can't be faulted for following their instructions. Because it was required of her, I didn't decrease my rating of the book because of the lack of a greater conflict, but I think it's worth noting that I personally would prefer some focus other than the relationship between Willa and Hart. That being said, there were definitely a lot of complications in Willa and Hart's relationship and this added to the plot development. Quincy revealed their secrets to the reader without info dumping, which is ALWAYS very much appreciated!
As the imprint category suggests, this book was full of scandal. Willa herself suffers from the impact of the scandal in her life and this has a huge impact on the plot of the book. But additionally, some of the scenes between Willa and Hart get quite steamy! If you're interested in that, you'll probably enjoy this book.
Overall, this book was enjoyable to read and it was a great way to unwind from finals week. I would definitely recommend it to any historical romance fans. Although this is the third book in the Accidental Peers series, you do not need to read the preceding books in order to follow the story line - I didn't read them and I understood the story just fine. However, after reading this, I do intend to go back and read the first two as well as the fourth once it's published. I'll definitely be looking for more from Diana Quincy in the future! :)
Disclaimer: I received an advance review copy of this book from Entangled Publishing, but in no way did this influence my review.