Read an excerpt: here
Hidden away from the world after her supposed 'drowning in the Thames' 2 years ago, Verity Thompson, also known as 'Lizzie', never expected to see her husband face-to-face ever again. So when Grayson, the Earl of Hawkeswell, accompanies his friend, Sebastian Summerhayes, to retrieve his wife from a visit with 'The Rarest Blooms', what's never expected become actual reality. Her futile attempts to conceal her identity once Hawkeswell claps eyes on her are in vain and only add to his frustration and short temper. Resolving to go with Hawkeswell to Essex (with Audrianna and Sebastian in tow) to spare any nasty incidences brought on by her unwillingness to go, Verity agrees to a plan that will have her in a carriage and Hawkeswell foregoing any exercising of his husbandly rights; but under the concession that she must give him three kisses a day. Although Hawkeswell agrees to forfeit conjugal rights during the 4 day trip to Essex, he knows Verity only sees it as her last chance to hold on to her virginity and use the fact to aid in her petition for an annulment. With no intention of letting Verity leave the marriage, Hawkeswell begins to devise ways to seduce her cooperation.
The reason Verity ran away 2 years ago and made it look like an accidental death was because of her cousin, Bertram, and his wife. Her legal guardians since her father died, the Thompsons saw Verity's huge inheritance as bait to draw in a destitute aristocrat whom will open doors to society that were previously shut. What Verity wanted and needed didn't matter. So when Bertram threatened to harm a family whom had treated Verity with a scrap of humanity, she agrees, only to be devastated by learning on the day of her wedding, that he went ahead and harmed them anyway. Furious at the betrayal and suspecting Hawkeswell of having a part in it (which he didn't), Verity ran away and made it look like she died. It was only suppose to last until she reached her majority and could take control of her finances and her life. But she stayed with 'The Rarest Blooms' a little to long and got discovered.
Mid way through the visit in Essex, Hawkeswell gets word that Verity's trustee has successfully managed a hearing with a county coroner who may declare Verity legal dead and all the assets that were frozen to him upon her disappearance would be granted to him. Seeing as Verity is alive and well, he must make the trip and introduce Verity into society ahead of schedule. She is met with obvious strained-politeness and nasty rumors, but her submission to Hawkeswell is definitely the most scandalous bit of action. They build and develop a connection between each other, but Verity's insistence that she discover how Bertram harmed her Bowman family (more specifically the son Michael) to make amends started to wedge on Hawkeswell's conscience. He believes Michael was the real reason Verity ran away like she did, and as his feelings for her deepen, his resentment for her past begins to fester.
Sometimes, when you love someone, you've got to let them go. That's exactly what Hawkeswell does for Verity when he tracks down her beloved Michael and gives her all the necessary evidence she needs to get her annulment. But if it's truly meant to be, when you let it go, it always finds a way back to you.;)
Rating: 3 1/2 "Aww's"
My Favorite Part of the Book: Is when Hawkeswell finally gets Verity's surrender. She'd been putting off the consummation of their marriage ever since her exposure at the Rarest Blooms and by submitting to the act, she would be resigning herself to the marriage. Hawkeswell worked his magic and seduced her right in the garden of their home. They had been eating dinner on the terrace and soon found themselves naked and making a real marriage of it on top of the flower bed. The next morning, Hawkeswell discovers he can't find his wife anywhere in the house and assumes she ran way again after the flower bed debacle; only to be told that she was out in the garden. He doesn't know if she's angry or upset about what happened, but as they gaze at the spot where the flowers were flatten by their love-making, she cracks a joke to ease the tension. She says, "..we should set out a sign and be done with it. A memorial plaque.'Here did Lady Hawkeswell lieyeth while her lord taketh her the first time'". Pretty Funny.
The second book in 'The Rarest Blooms' series doesn't disappoint. The sensuality is undeniable and through Hawkeswell's compassion and selflessness, you believe in the love that is forged between him and Verity. I think the story started off well enough; diving straight into the drama. The characters definitely developed steadily and the pacing was pretty good. Some deep issues were touched on, and I appreciated that Hunter could take us there and have it add to the plot but not overwhelm it. Although I thought the catalyst for the plot (Bertram's deception about the Bowman's and Verity's running away) was a bit lofty and slightly stretched, the book did what a 3 1/2 '"Aww's" rating entails- The 3 E's, as I like to call them- I Enjoyed, it was Exciting and I was pleasantly Entertained.
*Also check out the first book in the series, Sebastian and Audrianna's story, 'Ravishing In Red'/ My Review can be found: here