In New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Boyle's fourth novel in the Rhymes With Love series, a resolute young woman goes toe-to-toe with the Beast of Mayfair
She has no desire for love . . .
As she arrives in Mayfair, Louisa Tempest is horrified when her incorrigible cat bolts from the carriage and dashes into a neighbor's house, where she comes face-to-face with the reclusive Viscount Wakefield. But even more dismaying than his foul temper is the disarray in which she finds his home. Convinced his demeanor would improve if his household were in order, Louisa resolves to put everything to rights.
. . . until she meets the viscount who lives down the lane
Much to his chagrin, Wakefield finds it impossible to keep the meddling Louisa out of his home, invading his daily life with her "improvements," and his nights with the tempting desires she sparks inside him. Wounded in the war, he's scorned society ever since his return . . . until Louisa opens the door to his heart and convinces him to give love a second chance.
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Hannibal, however, has little sense of convention or decorum
The fourth in her Rhymes with Love series, Elizabeth Boyle’s The Viscount Who Lived Down the Lane is the first I have read by this author, but this story worked perfectly with no major misses in story thread, action or character.
Twin sisters, Louisa and Lavinia Tempest arrive in London, not in a teacup but in a carriage with one unruly passenger, Hannibal the cat who will play a large part as matchmaker and general nuisance throughout the story. The girls are in London for the season, although Louisa isn’t interested, and their house in Mayfair is perfectly situated for society. With one exception: their neighbor Viscount Pierson Wakefield, notoriously reclusive since his return from the war.
Hannibal, however, has little sense of convention or decorum, and like most cats wants to be exactly in the place that appears to NOT want him – so he dashes from the carriage straight into Pierson’s home, disturbing the man and providing Louisa with a less than optimal introduction.
And with that introduction, full of Hannibal’s curiosity, Louisa’s discomfiture and Pierson’s gruff and grumpy exclamations – we are off and running. Louisa is wonderfully complete with a sweet nature and giving heart, she is determined to improve Pierson’s life by organizing the mess of a household he exists in. While her exuberance and determination are forces to be reckoned with, she finds Pierson attractive and interesting, and is not often cowed by his gruff treatment.
For his part, Pierson is mired in guilt, surviving the war when his best friend didn’t, and then being sidelined by his injury, his desire is to retreat from everything and hide away: not the best plan. He is merely existing in his Mayfair home, until the whirlwind that is Louisa appears, usually closely following or followed by that damnable cat. Hannibal is a character in and of himself – cats are curious and he seems to be more inventive than most in his ability to cajole Pierson out of his continual round of self-pity.
These two are cleverly drawn and their interactions show the tender regard as it develops in a sweet way, as Pierson lets down his guard at seeing the good qualities in Louisa. Their conversations are laced with humor and the story carries quite a lighthearted feel. Underlying the girls’ season is a concern about their mother’s ‘great shame’ and the very valid concern of this secret being known, which would affect their prospects, but this is secondary to the characters and the sweet romance that is developing between Louisa and Pierson.
For the most part, this story moves forward quickly with a lighthearted feel that really allows readers to focus on the characters: secondary characters are as cleverly built as Louisa and Pierson, and Hannibal is truly such a character that his recalcitrant behavior never fails to bring a giggle. The big secret isn’t revealed until near the end, and the few threads that are left hanging should wrap nicely in Lavinia’s story.
I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via Edelweiss for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.