This book is a compilation of two separate novellas from the Half Moon House series. These are my first foray into this series and I did not feel that I needed to read the other books before appreciating these books. These novellas were so good that I purchased the other books in the series to enjoy.
The novellas have been published previously, so check before purchasing.
These books are a nice complement to one another as the hero of the second novella appears as a secondary character in the first. Readers get to see his growth and redemption by reading both novellas.
AN UNEXPECTED ENCOUNTER: Miss Elizabeth Moreton has run off to London to avoid her step-father's plan to marry her off to a local squire in exchange for breeding stock for his cattle. Unfortunately, she is abandoned by the person she expected to help her. Instead, she ends up pretending to be a governess for a young orphaned girl. The girl is the ward of Lord Edmund Cotwell, a gruff man who has cut himself off from society. Lisbeth finds herself mending the hearts of both Edmund and his ward and finding a purpose of her own.
Novellas are difficult creatures. Compared to full length novels, they often feel incomplete and shallow. On the other hand, they give authors a chance to tell stories of beloved characters who might not otherwise have their tale told. I very much enjoyed this novella because I thought the characters were well drawn, their story was tightly told and engaging and I left the story satisfied with the whole. I really thought the characters were sweet and I admit I am a sucker for the historical guy who is interested in things other than drinking, whoring and socializing. Edmund's scientific interests made him sexier and far more intriguing than he would have otherwise been. I liked that all the characters here: Edmund, Lizabeth and the ward are out of step with what would be expected in society. They are so clearly meant for one another. Rating: 4 stars.
A WALTZ IN THE PARK: Two people holding themselves out to society with a mask for their own purposes. James Vickers wants to be as scandalous as possible in order to frustrate his despised father. Even though he has reformed himself from his wild and rakish days, he doesn't want his father to know. James knows his father is an abominable man and wants to find out what he is hiding. This season, James meets Miss Adelaide Stockton who knows she must act with utmost propriety in order to live down her mother's scandal and find a husband of her own. The two should have nothing to do with one another and yet cannot help but be attracted.
This was my favorite of the two stories because it had a a beautiful and unexpected arc to the story ending up with the title-tease waltz in the park. From the beginning, there was such a unique connection between the two main characters. James is a man who struggles with his demons and needs to find out who he can be apart from his desire to frustrate his father's ends. Addy doesn't know what she wants from life and slides into her family's expectations. The relationship between Addy and James manages to free them both to be who they want to be. The story has humor and drama and even some well placed angst. But what I loved most was the blatant romantic climax of the story. This was a story that I wished were longer, but I'd rather have the story than not. Rating: 4.5 stars.
NOTE: I received an ARC of this book in order to provide a review. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions contained herein are my own.