I run hot and cold with Annie Burrows and with a title as poorly chosen as this one I almost passed this one by, but I'm glad I read it because I adored this book! From the moment our very scarred hero meets our emotionally abused heroine I couldn't stop turning pages and spent a sleepless night finishing it.
Aimee Peters is an unusual woman. Having grown up running from one country to the next to avoid creditors and the law, she is used to doing for herself and knows how to handle nearly any situation with calm aplomb. Until, that is, her father tries to sell her virginity to the highest bidder and she finds herself running from the law in her homeland. Needing a remote place to hide and to start anew, she thinks the ad for a governess in the wilds of Yorkshire is just the thing, but when she arrives nothing is as it seems - especially her heavily scarred employer with no children or wife.
Captain Septimus Corcoran has recently discovered that he's the heir to a bankrupt earldom. Having barely survived the war and the pain of his wife running away with her lover upon the sight of his scarred face, he can't imagine finding a wife to beget an heir. He doesn't trust his heart to any woman, and knows that his visage is grotesque to most ladies of breeding. In an effort to find the right woman he decides to advertise for a governess assuming that any such woman would be happy to become a countess.
For a book that has so many misunderstandings and lies, I was surprised by how much I liked it. Burrows does an excellent job of having our hero and heroine misunderstand one another and then immediately try and clear up any misunderstanding. The only real problem I had was the hero's name. Septimus is just so not sexy. Luckily Aimee almost never uses it.
I love a truly ugly and emotionally wounded hero who knows he is both and is trying to work through it. Unlike those whiney heroes who sulk and rail at their poor existence, the Captain rarely wallows in self pity. Sure he gets mad and feels ugly, but he always admits his mistakes and apologizes for them. Aimee is the same and that's why the two work so well. Both are down to earth and not afraid to face their demons. They both lie...or omit the truth more than I'd like, but I totally understood what motivated them and I never judged them poorly for it.
I've really been loving the Harlequin Historical books. They have a real traditional Regency feel with well layered characters and tight writing. There is sex in this book, but it was very tasteful and used as a means to bring Aimee and Septimus together emotionally. I wouldn't say it was "hot," but as in any good traditional, it was sensual and emotionally satisfying.
Bottom Line A must read for Regency fans who like their heroes scarred and their stories tightly paced.