Oh my god! I seriously believe this is one of the best works by Eloisa James till date. Every single page was a delight to read it is so gorgeously written. This book was on my reading radar for a long time but I just couldn’t bring myself to read it..something about the name just didn’t appeal to me even though it had an awesome rating on goodreads. But with the next book coming out and that too with great reviews I decided it was high time I read it. And if I say so myself, it was a damn good decision.
To begin with, Lady Xenobia India St. Clair is an orphaned daughter of a marquess who has been living with her aunt since her parents’ death. But unfortunately for her, being titled did not provide her with a happy carefree childhood. Her parents happened to be free spirited and often forgot to look after her. Sometimes they were so busy dancing and praying to the moon goddess that India had to hunt for food herself. When she goes to live with her aunt she realises her passion for arranging furniture (one could say interior designing). From that moment she decides to make a profession out of it and become monetarily independent. After working for years she decides to retire and marry. But before that as a favour to Eleanor, the Duchess of Villiers she agrees to help renovate a new place recently bought by her stepson.
Enter Tobias ‘Thorn’ Dautry, the bastard son of Duke of Villiers. Despite spending his childhood as a mud lark he’s become quite a successful businessman. He’s a complete copy of his father, including the single white hair and piercing grey eyes. To gain some more respect in London Society he decides to settle down with a meek and modest lady – Laetitia Rainsford. But in order to impress her horrid mother he needs to get his country house renovated.
As soon as India and Thorn come across, sparks fly, literally. Although they disfavour each other initially, but with time they form a sort of friendship and try to help each other in achieving their respective goals. And in between the notes passing and late night chummy chats they inexorably fall in love. I believe this note passing was the main reason that I adored this book so much. They both became a lot more real to me through their notes’ conversations. Even today I’m more susceptible to letters or notes than any other gesture.
Apart from Thorn and India, there were some lovely side characters and especially Rose – Thorn’s ward. She’s a precocious little girl but extremely lovable. Then there’s Vander, the perfect hero in the making. Of course the Duke and Duchess of Villiers (from A Duke of Her Own) also appear for a brief spell. Throughout the book I felt bad for Lady Laetitia as she was badly side-lined. So I was overjoyed when she finally found her happiness.
The only part that bothered me was the melodramatic ending to a perfect story where Thorn plans something foolishly risky just to get India back. It was a bit too Bollywood-ish for my taste. In all, Miss James kept me completely engrossed the entire time and I would give the book 4.5 stars.