Lady Mercy likes her life neat and tidy. She prides herself on being practical—like her engagement to Viscount Grey, whose dark coloring coordinates very well with her favorite furnishings. But things start to get messy when her best friend abandons her fiance at the altar, leaving it up to Mercy to help the couple. There’s just one problem. The jilted man is Rafe Hartley—Mercy’s former husband.
Rafe has not forgiven Mercy for deserting him when they were seventeen. Their hasty marriage was declared void by law, but in his eyes the bossy little vixen was still his wife, even if the marriage lasted only a few hours. And Mercy “Silky Drawers” Danforthe still owes him a wedding night.
Lady Mercy Danforthe doesn’t get things wrong…or at least, not in a long time. In a fit of teenage foolishness, she ran off and married Rafe Hartley. But her brother put a stop to the rebellion before the marriage could be consummated. She has since tried to live her life in a ordered and correct way, even going as far as to select a suitably ordered and correct fiancé for herself. Mercy is very much a fixer, someone who wants things to go the way she wants them to.
Mercy certainly thinks she still knows what is best for Rafe Hartley. Despite their history, and the animosity with which they approach each other, Mercy is always working to make sure that he is able to live the way he wishes. How she does this is very creative to say the least.
Her beloved friend Molly is due to marry Rafe, in a match Mercy heartily approves of. But when Molly gets cold feet on the wedding day, it falls to Mercy to break the news to her none-too-impressed ex. Rafe has twice been robbed of a wedding night by Mercy, and in a fit of pique, demands that she find him a wife to replace the one that he blames .
Mercy sure does rub Rafe up the wrong way, and they do bicker like two seagulls fighting over a chip, but what drew him to Mercy all those years ago has only intensified with time. And boy does it grind on him that this is the case.
Mercy…. now I really enjoyed her as a character, but I can definitely see that she might not be for everyone’s taste. She is bolshy, opinionated and quite happy to tell people what is best for them. From what I see of her, Mercy never behaves out of malice – she truly believes she’s doing what is best for people. However not everyone likes this type of heroine, so it was not a surprise to see that others didn’t have the same reaction to her.
Rafe…. behind the gruff, stubborn exterior, there lays a sweet man. His life has not been simple – being illegimate in those days was a pretty big red mark against you, even if your father was a well-known and respected person. His wishes are however simple – his farm and a family. I think he acts the way he does (name-calling etc.) because he still feels somehow not good enough.
Their chemistry was electric. Maybe it was the whole love-hate thing they had going on which, let’s face it, at the start is pretty heavily on the hate side. The banter between Mercy and Rafe sparks and crackles with sexual tension, and you just know that when they just stop trying to spit fire, things are going to get hot.
This is a fun, light and entertaining read, with great dialogue and smart characters. It has a fantastic opening, which beautifully sets the tone for the rest of the story:
“I have only one use for an overly proud cock.” The old woman’s black lace veil billowed with a gusty sigh. “Stewed in a pot with burgundy wine and butter. So you may put aside your pride and male vanity, Hartley. I’ve sent more strutting cockerels to the ax than I care to count.”
It could easily be read as a standalone book (despite it being the third in the series). As always, I do recommend reading the other books first. I am really looking forward to seeing what Jayne Fresina has in store for Molly in a future title. I have a feeling I know who her hero will be – or at least, who I’d like it to be.
My rating: 4 out of 5
Release Date: 4 June 2013
Note: I was provided with an advanced reader copy of this book by Sourcebooks Casablanca via NetGalley in return for an honest review.