London's Best Kept Secret by Annabelle Bryant
I’m going to come right out and say it; if you’ve been reading other reviews and thinking this is a ‘marriage of convenience turns to love’ kind of book? That’s not what this is.
This is, in fact, a ‘complete scum bag ruins heroine’s family so she is forced to marry him’ kind of book. And really… is there a way back from a hole that deep?
It gets worse when you realize that since Charlotte was in her first season, she was EIGHTEEN when Lord Dearing pulled off this nasty plot. Apparently, he first saw her performing on the piano at some society event and decided he had to have her. Realising his minor title (he’s a viscount) puts him well back in the race for the hand of a lovely, titled, talented lady like Charlotte, he resorts to foul means to get her.
I can’t get past this. I’m sorry, I just can’t. Not only did he marry her this way, he forced her father to hand over a valuable railroad share, and then ABANDONED HER for six weeks for… some reason that’s never defined in the slightest. Ten months later they’re barely talking to each other. The only point in Dearing’s favour is that he hasn’t actually forced Charlotte to consummate the marriage, because he does have a conscience and is wracked by guilt over what he’s done. Not enough to give that railroad share back to her father, though. Or even say yes to Charlotte when she rather pathetically says she’d like a kitten to keep her company.
There are too many sub-plots going on in this story, from a distasteful bet made between a rather pathetic villain and the hero’s best friend, to a bizarre plot involving the heroine’s sister getting embroiled in a scandal which seemed to peter out with no resolution whatsoever. There was far too much of the plot driving the characters going on here, and I set the book down at the end feeling thoroughly irritated, and not a little icky at Dearing having got exactly what he wanted with no real consequences at all for his immoral and frankly villainous actions. I really can’t find any redeeming qualities in the story at all. One star.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for review through NetGalley.