How to Woo a Reluctant Lady
Hellions of Halstead Hall – Book 3
By Sabrina Jeffries
Publisher: Pocket Books
Release Date: January 18, 2011
Nine years later…
Opinionated, outspoken and firmly on the shelf, Minerva Sharpe is a walking, talking scandal. The successful author of gothic novels that she insists on publishing under her real name, Minerva is not about to cave to her grandmother’s scheme to marry off the Sharpe siblings and is full of ideas to thwart her. Her latest, however is about to backfire on her…big time. When Minerva advertises for a husband in The Ladies Magazine, she anticipates the resulting hoardes of men vying for the hand of an heiress will finally convince her grandmother to toss in the towel. What she never could have anticipated is the appearance of the man who broke her young heart, provided the inspiration for the villain of her books and, now, appears intent on marrying her!
As a young man, determined to bring to justice the man who engineered his father's financial ruin and suicide, Giles Masters stole documents from a member of the ton, only to be caught in the act by Minerva Sharpe. That night was the beginning of a double life for Giles. For the next nine years, he built a successful law practice by day while drinking, gambling and carousing his way through London by night, effectively demolishing his reputation while secretly gathering information for the Home Office and never giving another thought to the fact that Minerva could bring it all tumbling down. He had sworn her to secrecy, after all. But now, when his undercover work is drawing to a close and he's a strong candidate for appointment as a King's Counsel, he discovers that his dreams could all come to a screeching halt...at Minerva's hands...when it's pointed out to him how much he, and his actions, resemble the villain in her books. If that early theft, or any of his subsequent actions, should become public knowledge, his future is over...but there's a way out. He strikes a bargain with Minerva: pretend to be her fiance to circumvent her grandmother's edict that she marry. Minerva is certain that the older woman will never agree to a marriage with a scoundrel like him! But there's more to Giles than meets the eye, as Minerva begins to discover the more time they spend together, including the fact that "pretend" is a word that only exists in Minerva's vocabulary and "scoundrel" doesn't apply to Giles at all.
This is the third book in the Hellions of Halstead Hall series and, while I've enjoyed all three books, this one is my favorite so far. The hero and heroine are both smart, savvy and successful people in their own right and, while they both are just fine on their own, together they become so much more. I find it refreshing that the reluctant partner in this couple is the woman and it's so much fun to watch Giles court Minerva and bring her around to the idea of marriage. Believe me, she doesn't make it easy on him! Also, both Minerva and Giles are multi-layered characters and I appreciated the care taken by Jeffries in slowly peeling away their layers and allowing us to come to know them fully as they gradually come to know one another. The book is also infused with Jeffries' witty banter, humor, non-stop action and sizzling sensuality. It's a continual delight, from beginning to end, and Giles and Minerva just may end up being one of my favorite couples of the year.
The mystery surrounding the death of Minerva's parents continues to be an important part of each book with more clues uncovered by Minerva and Giles during their story. Also, in this book, we catch up with the heroes and heroines of the first two books and gain more insight into the remaining two Sharpe siblings as well as clues to the identities of their potential mates.
Many times, books within a series will stand on their own but, in this case, I strongly recommend that you read the books in this series in order: The Truth About Lord Stoneville, A Hellion in Her Bed and How to Woo a Reluctant Lady.