For me, Rhonda Woodward is one of those authors that I buy but never seem to read. I liked her first book enough to put her on my auto-buy list, but once purchased they just get relegated to the bottom of my never-ending TBR pile. I know that I like her, but there always seems to be a newer book I want to read more. After reading The Wayward Heart I pulled Woodward out of the pile and suggest you do the same. Her books may not be as sexy or exciting as some of the other books you have, but these are sweet, well written, and an excellent change of pace.
Juliann Alard, the beauty of her small town, had her season in London cut short (like before it began!) when the slightly tipsy Duke of Kelborne kisses her in the street to fulfill a bet he had made the night before to kiss the prettiest girl he saw. Her family thinking she would be better to avoid gossip sent her home, and for a year she fumed about how that one kiss changed her simple life. Yes she was still the beauty of her town, but being sent home had made the small town speculate as to the reason, and many of her enemies had used it as a means to spread malicious gossip.
When the opportunity to visit a relative in Bath presented itself she jumped at the offer. What she couldn't know was that she would meet up with the Kissing Duke again in quiet little Bath, and all her revenge fantasies might have the chance to become more than just fantasies.
I really liked this book. Kel and Julia were both well written and fun to be around, but truth be told, it wasn't the love story between them that kept me turning the pages. In fact I felt that their story took a little too long to get off the ground. What I found most interesting were the stories of the people surrounding Kel and Julia.
Woodward has a real knack of bringing secondary characters to life. Caro and Clive's story of newly wed life and all the family interactions were so real by the end of the book I was desperate to get an invitation to their next party.
The setting of the novel was also brilliantly done, and the use of history was perfect. It gave the setting a realness that is often lacking in Regency novels. Woodward knew just how much detail to put in to make people who have visited Bath long to go back, and people who have never been their feel like they had.
My only major complaint is the time it took for the two main characters to get together. I felt that Kel and Julia spent too much time apart for a romance to bloom when Julia had only started seeing Kel so she could get revenge on him. The realization on both their parts that they loved one another felt a little too pushed, but they are both likeable characters that you were happy ended up together.
Bottom Line: A fast and fun read that has excellent secondary characters, and whose story will leave you smiling.