It starts off with Harry Valentine digressing on the short comings of his childhood and family. He spends the first chapter mulling over his past while including anecdotes about his DRUNK of a father, his uncommon fluency in all things Russian (thanks to his Grand-mere) and the morbid humor in knowing exactly how many times he has cleaned up his father's 'sick'. Deciding in an instant, after the commencement of his final term at school before he was suppose to start college in oxford, Harry takes his neglectful mothers advice and joins his cousin Sebastian in buying a commission and heading off to war. Time passes and Harry finds himself working for the war office, translating Russian text into English. There is a rumor started that he murdered his fiancee (which isn't true), and after moving in next door to the Bevelstokes, he becomes not only the topic of discussion in every drawing room in the neighborhood, but the object of some innocent surveillance by the neighbor's daughter , Olivia.
They meet face-to-face at a ball, and after some embarrassing innuendos of peeping tom's and irritating retorts, both Olivia and Harry become rather 'put-off' by each other. Harry would of just left Olivia alone after that (despite the fact that he found her very alluring), but she was currently being courted by a Russian Prince with a questionable history whom was under investigation by the War Office. Because of Harry's proficiency in the culture and language, he is 'forced' to follow her around and see if she is connected as well while keeping tabs on the Prince.
This is a romance book, so obviously, during this undercover mission, Harry finds himself as entranced with Olivia as she is smitten with him. He quickly determines she is not involved but now he must focus on the mission of figuring out the mysterious exiled Prince. After some nail-biting moments involving guns, abductions and abandoned music room dalliances, The story concludes with a very sweet and romantic ending.
My Favorite Part in the Book: Is when Harry pays a call on Olivia to 'return a book' and joins her and her company who is none other than the Russian Prince.While taking tea in the drawing room with her suitors, Olivia asks the Prince to say something in Russian for her. He speaks and then when asked what he said, he translates it as "Only that you are more beautiful than the oceans, sky, and fog". Harry, knowing Russian too (though that detail isn't known by anyone for fear it may compromise the mission), knows that what the Prince really said was "I am going to pump you until you scream'. Morbidly humors indeed. I laughed so hard after reading that, it was so unexpected and just thrown into the scene of the two suitors vying for Olivia's attention....
Overall, it was very well paced and exciting, with just the right amount of romance to make it a personal favorite. Even though the drama of the abduction was saved for the end and therefore did not really develop as much as it could have, I still found the book immensely gratifying and well executed.
*Also check out the 1st and previous novel in the Bevelstoke series 'The Secret Diaries of Miranda Cheever'
*And also pick up your copy of 'Ten things I Love About You', Sebastian's story, in stores May 25th 2010