If you are familiar with the Bedwyn series (or as commonly referred to, the 'Slightly Series'; because all the titles of the books have 'slightly' in them) , then you know of not only Wulfric Bedwyn, the cold as ice Duke of Bewcastle, but you know of his younger siblings. This is the final book of the 'Slightly Series' and is not only a send off of the beloved series and ties the last love-string (Wulf's), but provides a perfect opportunity to catch up with the other Bedwyn siblings!
The book starts off quaint enough with the introduction of our heroine, Mrs. Christine Derrick. The full of laughter and sweet dispositioned Mrs.Derrick was widowed two years ago, and ever since (and really, quiet some time beforehand) she has never really strive to get back into the fold of 'proper' and 'demure' society. Some found her sunshiny personality and amiability to all walks of life a bit 'vulgar' and 'indiscreet'. Some of the ringleaders in this dislike were her own brother and sister in-law, Basil and Hermione Derrick (Viscount and Viscountess Elrick) and most cutting, her own late-husband. She was believed to be a flirt, and subsequently, her fidelity to her marriage was questioned by her inner-circle. The only one who stuck by her and believed her innocence was her cousin by marriage,Justin; who held a long tenure for her.
After politely writing her refusal to attend a house party, which was being thrown by Lord and Lady Renable (her cousins by marriage as well, which meant Basil and Hermione would be there), she is then visited by Melanie, Lady Renable herself, and persuaded to come anyway. Melanie is in a bind because her brother invited an extra guest to the party; The Duke of Bedwyn; and therefore the numbers of female-to-male guest is uneven. Couldn't have that, could we?
We are then given a glimpse into the laps of judgment that led the formidable Duke to accept an impromptu invitation to the house party. A universally known recluse, The Duke of Bedwyn recently laid to rest his mistress of 10 years and was feeling a bit melancholy. Loneliness prompted his decision to accept, but he immediately began to regret his rashness when a plainly-clad Christine Derrick spies his arrival from a top landing on the second floor and accidentally spills a bit of lemonade in his eye.
Mortified, and a little more than mischievously tickled by the ordeal, Christine continues on to the primrose salon where all the other lady-guest were to arrive. She has a icy encounter with her sister in-law, Hermione, and is soon playing neutral spectator to the groups of young misses and aging English roses. She overhears and is subsequently pulled into a conversation about the presences of the Duke. As juvenile as these young misses could get, a few of the younger female guest start a wager that would benefit the first young lady in the group to snare the Dukes undivided attention for a whole hour. Christine is helplessly goaded and dragged into the wager, but has no intention of participating.
Little does she know, her and the Dukes paths are about to become undeniably interlock with each other. A profitable opportunity presents its self as Wulfric bumps into Christine alone on the grounds and feels gentlemanly bound to escort her around for a quick stroll. They further convince themselves of pre-conceived notions of the other; that he is a no nonsense, stick in the mud, cold as ice, arrogant aristocrat and she is an irritatingly care-free, dismissive wild and fanciful female. Having already won the bet, but choosing to keep her win personal, Christine resigns herself to the notion that the out of the ordinary occurrence (her receiving the Duke's attentions) will most likely never happen again, and in any case she will remain invisible to him for the rest of the house party's duration.
Fate wouldn't allow this, and after a mishap involving Christines' climbing a tree, tearing her dress, efficiently being rescued by Wulfric and a passionate kiss shared in the seclusion of a maze, Wulfric is ready to admit that he isn't as put off by Christine's person as he lets on and rashly (and quiet stupidly) offers her the 'distinct honor' of becoming his replacement mistress. Understandably aghast, Christine refuses, flees, and commits herself to the thorough disliking of the Duke of Bedwyn.
On the last night of the house party (the ball), and presumably, the last time either of them will see each other, Wulfric asks Christine to dance. Her toes are mowed down by a male dancer with two left feet, and Wulfric efficiently swoops her up and takes her outside to compose herself. They end up waltzing under the stars and eventually 'ending' their acquaintanceship with some passionate lovemaking on the grassy bank before a lake.
Once again, fate wouldn't allow our two to part just yet, and after a disastrous proposal of marriage 10 days later, they meet up again almost a year later at the wedding of Audrey Derrick (for whom the house party was in honor of). After a hilariously innocent incident at the Serpentine in Hyde Park, where Wulfric plays rescuer of Christine again, Wulfric returns a day later to see how she fared and ask her for a chance to prove that he isn't all that she believes him to be. He invites her and her family to his home, where his family will be congregated for the Easter holiday, and intends to prove her wrong there.
There are some cute scenes here, revelations there, and indifferent family members are reunited and assured of the truth about Christine's nature. Suffice to say, Wulfric succeeds in his bid for Christine's heart and makes her his wife! Slowly but surly our man of ice begins to melt and warm ours hearts a thousand times over in the process!
My Favorite Part of the Book: Is hard to pick out. Although originally, it was the scene from the maze where they first kiss, the ending of the book was to satisfying not to receive this distinction. I do not want to give away all of the plot, but my favorite moment happens at the end (the last sentence to be precise). It is known throughout the book that Christine was barren (unable to conceive) through her 7 year marriage and was likely never to conceive at all. At the end, the epilogue centers around the christening of Christine and Wulfric's 'miracle baby' and ends with:"The marquess (courtesy title for Wulfric's heir) did not even know what brothers and sisters were. But he would...." period, end! (I thought I might cry!)
This book was a classic Mary Balogh for me and endearingly heart-warming. It was pretty well paced and packed a lot of action and emotion in the short time span in which the first half and second half of the book took place. There isn't much more to say about this one; it's golden!
-Read an excerpt here:'Slightly Dangerous' excerpt
Rating: 4 "Aww's"
*Also check out 'Slightly Married', Wulfric's brother Aidan's Story, and a personal favorite! It is also the first book in the 'Slightly Series' !
'Slightly Married' excerpt