Verity Plum and Ash have been friends for a long time. Intensely attracted to each other, they flirt but never cross the line. Verity doesn’t want to get married, and Ash doesn’t want to risk fathering an illegitimate child, knowing from experience how hard that can be.
When Ash’s mentor moves to France for his health, Ash can’t follow because sea travel sets off his seizures. He moves into Verity and her brother Nathaniel’s house. Verity works as a publisher, publishing magazines, books, and pamphlets her brother writes. When she gets her hands on an unusual erotic novel, she asks Ash do the illustrations and requests that he make the women look like they’re enjoying themselves. Ash agrees, but soon finds that all the women in his drawings look like Verity, and it becomes harder for him to resist her.
To add to Ash’s difficulties, he finds out that he’s not an illegitimate nobody but the rightful heir of a duke’s son. He’d been hidden away as a child by his aunt to save his life, who then lost track of him. She now wants his help to prevent his abusive uncle from becoming duke by claiming his title and leaving his life behind. Ash agrees, but requests a month to get his affairs in order. One of those affairs is Verity, whom he is now determined to have, at least for a month.
I loved this book. Verity is my favorite character. She’s smart, strong willed, and independent. I love that she runs her father’s publishing house and that she is level headed enough to make tough decisions when it comes to her family. She’s funny and fiercely intelligent. Even though she’s dead set against marriage, she can still write favorable advice to people in her ladies’ magazine about the institution. I also like that she’s bisexual and is on relatively good terms with her former lover.
I also really liked Ash. He is kind and thoughtful and very noble. Even though he likes his life and the freedom he had in the lower classes, he’s willing to give up his friends to help his aunt, who is being hurt by his uncle. I like how much he respects Verity and her desires. I thought their relationship was fun to read about as it progressed, and I liked that it started with a solid foundation of friendship. I loved that this story was not “insta-love” where they meet at the beginning and then fall in love halfway through the book. This story is about two best friends who have always loved each other coming to understand that they’re in love.
I found the book a little hard to get in to, but once I did, I was swept away by the characters and plot. It was a fun ride. Four out of five stars.