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.
Sebastian Stanhope married the daughter of the Duke of Traherne to settle a gambling debt. He was completely shocked that the duke would offer his thirteen-year-old daughter as compensation for debts owed and after the wedding, he didn't lay eyes on Mirabella for six years. But now the time has come for Sebastian and Bella to start their lives together. They can either resist the match and allow resentment to fester in their relationship, or they can make the best of things and try to allow love to grow between them.
Of the three books in the Accidental Peers series that I have read thus far, this is the one that I've liked the least. It's not that this was a bad book - it wasn't - but I do feel that it is the weakest link in the series. It is still enjoyable and worth reading if you're a fan of the series, but it did have its flaws.
I loved Sebastian. He's one of the most honorable men I've ever read about: he's incredibly cool-headed and even-tempered, especially given his growing suspicions about Bella's competence to be a good wife to him. When we do see his control slip a bit, it endears him to the reader, because we know how good his heart is and how hard he tries to always do the right thing.
This is why I pity him so much for being married to Bella. As much as I loved Sebastian, I found Bella to be very difficult to like. I recognize that she's in a very tough situation. She was married at thirteen to a complete stranger and she feels neglected, both by her father and her absent husband. We know that Sebastian was trying to do her a kindness by giving her space, but Bella feels that her husband doesn't care for her at all - and I think that these feelings are understandable, and they do explain why she acts the way that she does. But frankly, even with this background, she came across as a spoiled brat, ungrateful and unnecessarily bitter towards Sebastian. Again, I recognize that as the reader, I have a different perspective on the situation than Bella does. But I still did not appreciate her attitude. I also was very annoyed by her snooping, which often led her to jump to conclusions without any real evidence. She'd always assume the worst and instead of confronting Sebastian about her suspicions, she'd just assume that she was right and would treat him harshly. Bella also has a vengeful nature, which only adds to her immaturity, and this gets old really fast, especially since her quest for revenge usually ends up backfiring on her and she never really seems to learn from her mistakes. I was happy when she did finally start to trust her husband, but given how vehemently against him she was at the beginning of the book, this change seemed to happen a bit too fast to be believable, in my opinion.
I have noticed that the men in the Accidental Peers series are much more open-minded than I think they really would have been for the time period. On one hand, as a feminist reader of the 21st century, this makes me love them all the more. It's refreshing to read about men who see their female love interests as equals and want to give them the freedom that should rightfully be theirs. However, as refreshing as it is, the truth is that in early nineteenth century England, very, very few men would be so open-minded. So while it's a quality that I admire and was happy to see, I think that readers who are very concerned with historical accuracy may not appreciate this bit of creative license. Personally, if I'm looking for a historically accurate read, I'm probably not going to look for it in a romance novel because the genre just doesn't tend to focus on that, so I don't fault Quincy for taking some liberties with this part of her stories, but I understand that other readers may feel differently. The twist with Sebastian's parentage and inheritance is also a bit unrealistic - and I felt unnecessary - but I didn't think it was a big enough deal to really complain about.
I did like this book. As stated before, Sebastian is just a wonderful guy and I loved reading about him. I think that creating strong leading men is one of Diana Quincy's greatest strengths - I've loved every single one of the heroes in her Accidental Peers series. There were parts of the book that made me laugh, though not quite as many as there were in Seducing Charlotte, and it was a fun book to read. However, my dislike of Bella definitely made me not like the book as much as I liked the others and, again, I do think that this is the weak link in the series. If you're planning on starting the series, I would definitely start with another book, because I don't know if this one alone would have been quite strong enough to encourage me to continue the series. Nevertheless, it was fun and the Accidental Peers series as a whole is one of my favorite historical romance series that I've read so far!
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author, but in no way did this influence my review.