I received an ARC of this book from the author in return for an honest review. This novel is the final volume of the Armstrong Sisters books and the heroine is Lady Cordelia Armstrong, the hero – a working class Scot – Iain Hunter. Both are unusual business people with very strong opinions, despite their diverse backgrounds!
As in the previous books, Cordelia’s father has a hand in arranging a marriage for her whether she likes it or not. The difference being in this book is that she had previously escaped his clutches by running away with her lover as a young debutante, a worthless rake, and their relationship fizzles out relatively quickly leaving Cordelia to find her own way in the world still unmarried and with a ruined reputation. Don’t feel you have to feel sorry for her though, as this does not bother her in the least – all she misses are her sisters which by extension to her father she is also estranged from.
Iain by contrast comes from a very poor family and is self-made, a ship builder who by his business talents is useful to Lord Armstrong who wants to use them in Arabia the home of his two eldest daughters and their powerful husbands. By ‘chance’ bringing the hero and heroine together, he believes he can manipulate a partnership in marriage between the two. What he does not know is that they have already had one passionate night together, and the spark between them hasn’t gone away in the ensuing years…
What I liked was a slightly later setting (1837), the chance to return to Arabia to revisit two of the sisters and a sparky self-made hero (and the way he attempts to protect the heroine) and heroine, surprisingly the hero to me appeared to have the softer heart and the slightly easier time of it allowing himself to fall in love – Cordelia took quite some time to do that.
What I didn’t like so much was that despite the plenty of opportunity on the journey to Arabia, there was very little time spent with the two oldest Armstrong girls/women – hardly anything at all – and we didn’t get to hear from Cassie except via her sister. Lord Armstrong did get his comeuppance from his wife you might say, and she got what she wanted out of her marriage in the end, but this seemed small satisfaction for Bella, and Lord A. still seemed to me to get away with being downright cruel at times. It would have been nice to see all his older children together finally showing how they had triumphed without him.
I did enjoy this book though, and it rounds out the series well – each of the girls finding their own distinct personalities and happiness in their own ways. I would probably recommend that if you could only pick one of the books going for Rumours that Ruined a Lady (Caroline).
Oh, and another lovely cover (but the fashion is all wrong M&B, and what’s the house for?)
A copy of this review can also be found on my Goodreads page.