To Dance with a Devil
Emma V. Leech
[Girls Who Dare 6]
A young woman desperate to escape her fate.
Bonnie Campbell’s time is almost up. In the light of no better offers, her guardian, the Earl of Morven, is forcing her to marry her cousin, Gordon Anderson. Vivacious Bonnie will have no option but to comply, condemning her to spend the rest of her life in the wilds of the Scottish Highlands, far from her friends and any possible chance of fun. During her final weeks of freedom, however, she will live as though these were her last days on earth and find the courage to show the man she truly loves, just how she feels.
A young man determined to prove his older brother wrong.
Jerome Cadogan, younger brother to the Earl of St. Clair, is a good-natured scoundrel. His blond, blue-eyed looks are not the least marred by his broken nose, his reputation for trouble, nor his predilection of falling in love with unsuitable women. Reeling from a stinging lecture delivered by his brother, the earl, Jerome faces having his allowance cut off if he can’t mend his ways. Determined to prove that he can be every bit as mature and sensible as St. Clair, Jerome swears off drinking, carousing and getting into trouble.
A scandal looking for a place to happen.
Sadly, his dearest friend, Bonnie, has other ideas. Lurching from one disaster to the next in her wake, Jerome is tearing his hair out and knows he must end their friendship before his brother ends him.
Yet when a hulking Highlander turns up to claim Bonnie for his own, Jerome ought to breathe a sigh of relief, but it appears his heart has done something unforgivable and fallen in love with the most unsuitable woman of all.
A charming story, but it was the subplots that really shone.
Bonnie is the product of neglect, having spent her childhood passed off by her father to a string of relatives who didn’t much care about her. As such, she has a number of issues that come forward in her relationships–especially her relationship with Jerome. She’s quite a sympathetic character, even if her hang-ups are occasionally aggravating.
Jerome is a ne’er-do-well younger son with issues of his own–mostly a phobia of commitment and poor taste in women. Despite some poor decisions, he’s absolutely devoted to Bonnie even before he realizes that he’s in love with her. Honestly, I found him preferable to Bonnie; his regard grew more naturally and he had more of a moment of self-discovery, instead of falling in love in prior books.
The relationship between Bonnie and Jerome is herky-jerky, mostly due to Bonnie’s actions. She runs away a lot, or makes sweeping decisions affecting them both on her own. Yes, it’s her intimacy issues materializing, but I still occasionally wished she’d just get over them already.
The growing secondary cast is beginning to get a little overwhelming, but most are charming. I particularly enjoy the bits for upcoming books woven throughout–I can’t wait for Matilda and Montagu’s book, for starters, but there’s just enough to whet my appetite for the others, too. I’m starting to struggle with keeping all of the characters who have already found their romances straight, though; half the time it takes me a few paragraphs to remember who one of the Peculiar Ladies is, much less the husbands.
The progression of the story was largely sensible, though I rather felt that the mention of Gordon Anderson in the blurb was inflated; he’s featured for half of a chapter–after Jerome’s already asked Bonnie to marry him yet again, so I had a hard time seeing him as a real impetus to Jerome realizing his feelings.
In the end, I wasn’t as invested in Bonnie’s story as I was in some of the others. It was a sweet read, but abrasive enough at times that, despite my regard for Jerome, it’s not one I’ll be eager to revisit.