by Margaret Evans Porter, historical (1999)
Avon, $5.99, ISBN 0-380-80772-6
Kerron Chasin, our hero, returns to his home in the Isle of Man an academic flop and with a reputation as an unscrupulous rake with nasty appetites. He arrives in time for his beloved sister's funeral, and meets Ellin Fayle, a local orphan who has been in love with him since the first time she sees him. Kerr hopes to start life anew by bringing his family's textile printing business to greater success and on a side activity, he'd make Ellin his mistress. Alas, they get compromised and are forced to get shackled.
I usually have a low tolerance for starry-eyed heroines who are in love with the hero - *snap* just like that! - the moment they see him, but I like this book, mostly because of that rascally yet lovable Kerr. The naughty lad is wonderful as a hero who tries his best to live life afresh and do his best to make his family proud. His intention for marrying Ellin isn't exactly pristine pure, but that's okay - romance heroes are usually a lovably obtuse goon of a lot. He makes up for what he lacks with a healthy dose of fun, laughter, love, and sensitivity.
Ellin starts out a total pea-beained ninny. She is so convinced that Kerr can do anything, probably including splitting the Red Sea for all I know, that I wish someone would shake some maturity in her. And since she's also an innocent naive heroine (another pet peeve), I'm prepared to give up on her. However, the author handles her eventual maturity very splendidly well. Sure, her starry-eyed infatuation gets savagely ripped apart somewhere into this story, but she grows stronger for it. By the end I'm convinced that yes, finally she really loves Kerr. True love and not just mere infatuation that she develops early in the story.
This is one author whose book gets more and more enjoyable every time. At this rate, I can't wait for her next one.
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