SCANDALOUS DESIRES . . .
Amy Hardwick has one last Season to shake off her wallflower image and make a love match. If she can’t, she’ll set aside her dreams of romance and return home to a suitor who can provide security-if little else. What she doesn’t count on is the inappropriate-and irresistible-attention lavished on her in a darkened library by rake extraordinaire Will “The Devil” Darcett . . .
When Will is caught in a tryst with the ton‘s shyest miss, he knows he must offer for her hand. Yet Amy is not the shrinking violet she seems to be. Passion lies beneath her prim exterior and Will is eager to release it. But winning Amy isn’t simply a matter of seduction; first, Will must convince her that he’s mended his wicked ways
This is the third book in Vicky Dreiling’s inaugural How To series featuring Hawk’s brother Will and Amy (from the first 2 books). I did receive my copy as an ARC from the author.
Amy happens to be my favorite of Ms. Dreiling’s three heroines so far. She is an introverted thinker who must deal with a lot of social anxiety. This leaves her tongue tied in social situations and confused in larger crowds, which explains the idea that she is aloof, first mentioned in Duke. Amy is the type of heroine that many women can relate to. While insecure, she is strong enough to face it and begin to overcome it. She does so by using her natural talent as a way to move past her anxiety and relate to people, especially the ladies of the ton.
William, Hawk’s younger brother, has been living his life on the run from his family. He keeps his exploits public and is as charming as possible as a way of garnering attention, especially from his family. Will is like many overlooked children where any attention, even for bad behavior, is welcome. But he is conflicted because he fears his family’s intervention and disapproval due to his anger at them. Instead of confronting his family with his feelings, he prefers to stay away. This becomes impossible when Hawk cuts off his allowance and Will makes a major mistake in trying to garner funds. Despite his family issues, he is loyal, steadfast, and honorable.
Will and Amy’s story is endearing and refreshing. They are very different people who handle difficult feelings in the same way, withdrawal. Ms. Dreiling caught perfectly the swirl of emotions that anxiety can cause in a person and how it can easily rip apart the fragile self-esteem. Unlike other stories where both the heroine and hero have to go through extreme emotional upheaval to grow, Will and Amy gradually work their way through their problems. Despite them not knowing each other well, they quickly learn to rely on each other for strength and the importance of fully believing in each other.
It was an absolute thrill to finally read a book where when the twist comes, the hero and heroine act like rational mature adults instead of following the first emotional impulse that flits through their brain. Of course given both Amy and Will’s tendency to withdraw from adversity, it underscores their development and why they are so perfect for each other. As in her other two books, the hero and heroine compliment each others strengths and weaknesses and bring out the best in each other. The rapport between Amy and Will is light, witty and bewitching. Watching Will fall in love with Amy was utterly delightful and easily made this my favorite book of the series.