Will Fairwell, third son and failed clergyman, is good at whist and managing his family's fortunes. He is not good at being tall, handsome, or keeping quiet for more than six seconds.
Naturally, he's fallen for the one woman in London who doesn't want to marry him for his money. He knows a nervy chatterbox like himself has little hope of charming the beautiful, confident Miss Frances MacDougal. But she's worth being brave for....
Frances MacDougal intends to marry for love—someday. As a girl, she turned down the life of a shopkeeper's daughter in order to follow the siren call of Shakespeare. Now that she's a leading lady, she'll enjoy every second of her success. So the attentions of the rich, respectable, and hilariously awkward Mr Fairwell are a flattering amusement—nothing more!
But not even her career can stop her from rushing home when her father's in need. And when she arrives in Edinburgh to discover her name in the papers as a possible accessory to murder—and the suspected lover of a killer—she's stunned. All her efforts to guard her reputation have been for naught.
She knows she shouldn't be so very pleased when Mr Fairwell offers to pose as her utterly respectable fiancé. Yet she's spent an awful lot of time taking care of things by herself. Is it so wrong to want someone she can depend on?
And in time, might she accept not just his help—but his hand and his heart?
Steam Level: 2.5 on a scale of 0 to 5. Sweet in tone and closed-door, but not strictly clean.
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A hero to whom your heart will fly
Most romance novels have a hero who is tall, dark, and handsome. Of course, there are variations. Instead of having black, wavy hair and eyes as dark as midnight, he may have blond hair and blue eyes, or auburn hair and green eyes. Nevertheless, he’s still tall and still handsome and, thus, much sought after by the ton’s matchmaking mamas, even if he is a notorious rake who drinks, gambles, and womanizes.
HOWEVER, Will Fairwell, the hero in My Heart Did Fly, is none of these things. He’s short, with sandy brown hair and hazel eyes. He’s small of stature and would rather run from an attacker than stand and fight. He has a pointed chin like a fox and a hang tooth. He’s also shy in social gatherings and chatters non stop to cover his nervousness.
He does have one quality women of the ton find appealing——he’s RICH. And, despite his shortcomings, these women are willing to marry him for his fortune. They don’t see that Will is intelligent, charitable, compassionate, understanding, and very kind. He doesn’t drink to excess, gamble, or womanize. His only vice is talking too much. He is also clever enough to see through the pretenses of the fortune hunters. He’s waiting for a woman who will see “him,” not his money.
One evening Will accompanies his friends to Drury Lane to see Othello. He is moved to tears by the actress Frances MacDougal’s performance of Desdemona. Not long afterwards, he meets Frances at a party; she smiles at him, and he is smitten. Later, he tells his friends he knows he doesn’t have a chance of winning her heart.
YET, when he learns that Frances has returned to her hometown of Edinburgh and faces some serious difficulties, he journeys 400 miles to offer her his services, asking for nothing in return and knowing his heart will be broken. He describes his time in her presence as both Heaven and Hell.
Francis MacDougal has no intention of becoming romantically involved with Will Fairwell. She knows he adores her and, therefore, she should send him away. Yet, she faces insurmountable problems, and he is offering unconditional assistance. She accepts his help, but she feels guilty, so she snaps at him. He doesn’t go away. She behaves like a shrew. He is patient and kind. She determines to send him away, but realizes his presence makes her feel warm and safe.
The title is from Shakespeare: “Hear my soul speak. The very instant that I saw you did my heart fly to your service.” As the author developed Will’s character, removing one layer at a time, I grew to like him more and more. By the end of the novel, I had fallen in love with this most unlikely of heroes. As the title suggests, “my heart did fly” to him.
And, like his predecessor in the first novel (A Good KISS is Hard to Find), Will proved to be a very fine kisser. (If only those shallow women of the ton had known! 🙂) I strongly recommend My Heart Did Fly. It’s such a nice change from those novels that have the traditional tall, dark, and handsome hero. The author took a risk—and succeeded—in making Will Fairwell not just a hero but a “romantic” hero.