Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★
Thanks to NetGalley and Avon for providing me with an eARC of this title in exchange for an honest review.
Miss Cleopatra Lewis is to be introduced into society just as any proper granddaughter of a viscount is meant to be, but Cleo isn’t any such lady. Inheriting a business involving water closets, “Lewis Commodes” she is a woman with means and without any want or need to marry. Cleo has resolved herself to be a mere wallflower in the coming season, but it seems that fate has other ideas.
The moment Jacob Astor Addison walked into Quimby’s Costume Emporium he didn’t expect to be swept off his feet by the english-woman who speaks her mind and knows her way around business dealings, including snatching up Quimby’s Costume Emporium right under his very nose. As his persistence spawns a battle of wits they agree to put the fate of Quimby’s sale upon a bet. He will design the clothing meant to entice patrons to the shop while she will design the attire to set him apart from the normal English gentleman. The winner takes all, but Jake soon realizes he has already lost his heart to Miss Lewis hoping he can turn this resolute wallflower into his wife.
There’s something warm and familiar about Eloisa James’ writing that draws you in. This was unlike any historical romance that I have read and I really appreciated it. The characters were quirky and self assured without feeling like a caricature. Their larger than life personalities and backgrounds helped them feel rooted in reality.I could see Cleo as someone I’d like to be friends with if I were transported to such a time, though I doubt I’d fair well with my tattoos in the early 1800’s. Still, I think Cleo who was raised around the theater would bat an eyelash.
Then there’s Jake who had all the swagger of such a sturdy American “brute” with charm that was in need of a bit of polishing, but fit perfectly along Cleo’s always candid personality. It was really enjoyable to see how they were so similar without it feeling like they were mirroring each other, how they accompanied each others like puzzle pieces that needed to be turned in such a way so that they lined up. It was truly a friends to lovers story as entertaining and heartwarming as they come.
In a sea of stories hoping to attain Bridgerton status, this was a refreshing take on historical romance. A nice brandy instead of the proper lemonade.