Another romance (yep, it's spring, sorry!):
Tormented by a dark secret, Julian LeFevre, Duke of Claridge, is a notorious and dissolute rake. His half-hearted attempt to reform his character has left him bored to death. To relieve the tedium, he wagers a friend that he can mold any pretty trollop from the London streets into a lady who'll pass muster with the ton.
But Hannah Gregory is no biddable lump of clay. She has solemn gray eyes, a rebellious streak -- and is deaf from a long-ago accident. And although she conceals her real past, she can't conceal her attraction to the scoundrel who offers her a small fortune that could pay for a new medical treatment.
The charade might heal her, but it also might break her heart -- if she forgets that this dark and dangerous duke is well past the point of redemption.
I really loved reading this book, even though some things were not inherently consistent. Despite that I almost couldn't put the book down and just kept reading.
The story itself is well developed and came up with strong and interesting characters, who quickly capture the reader's interest and keep him glued to the book. They are colorful and witty and I absolutely adored them.
At first sight the books reminded me of „My fair lady“ and its story of a mayfair girl turning out a lady, Julian LeFevre however, as I must admit, does not really resemble the very respectable Professor Higgins although those two could join hands when it comes to their arrogance.
Julian, the Duke of Claridge, is a not so very respectable member of society who doesn't really honor his title with his well earned reputation as a rake. Boredom drives him to enter into a rather daring wager with his friend Charles. Both have much to lose and so they immediately start to set things in motion. That's when Hannah Gregory enters their lives.
Well, to be more precise - she enters Julian's house and his life on her way out of Lock hospital, a hospital that deals primarily with the effects of sexually transmitted diseases. It is now up to Julian to mold this seemingly „formless lump of clay“ (his words, not mine!) into a proper and successful candidate for the ton's marriage mart.
If that wasn't challenge enough, Hannah is also deaf, due to an accident but Hannah wouldn't be Hannah if something like that would stop her and soon Julian has his hands full....
I liked the sensitive but matter of fact way with which the author dealt with Hannah's deafness, even though I was a teeny tiny bit astonished how quickly she has learned to read lips considering the fact that she was mostly on her own and didn't have help. It is always obvious how much she suffers from this loss and as a reader you feel for her and hope for a cure.
Julian's inner turmoil when it comes to the question of his parentage is also described emphatically and makes the
reader sympathize with him, even if I would have loved to kick him every now and then when he was far too arrogant and presumptuous – again.
I also loved the minor characters, especially Higgins (not Professor Higgins , despite the name) and Eleanor but all the others were well drawn as well and I liked to see what they were up to.
The end is, fortunately, not totally unexpected despite some nice twists and turns but there are some minor inconsistencies that don't disrupt the flow of reading but nevertheless shouldn't be looked upon too closely especially when it's about Hannah's origins and her family. As those men don't even notice how easily Hannah blends in in her „new“ life, I just raised my eyebrow -symbolically spoken- and read on without really thinking much more about the fact that nobody in the ton, who are well known for their curiosity and their love for gossip, cares that relatives rise from the dead and new relatives are found.
Despite those inconsistencies which were easy to ignore, as the rest of the book was so good, I really enjoyed this story!