Next to the Season’s newest diamond, Harriet (Hattie) Woodchurch feels like a plain Jane. But that’s of no consequence, since Hattie’s plan for her future is to earn enough to live far, far away from her embarrassing family.
That is until Mateo Vincente, Duke of Santiava and newly minted Viscount Abbott, arrives in London. While the shy European’s spoken English is impeccable, his writing is less fluent. The ton is eager to meet the handsome bachelor, and so many invitations flood in that Mateo needs a correspondence secretary.
With her perfect penmanship and way with words, Hattie is recommended, and the two bond over books and the ton’s eligible ladies. But when Hattie’s friend Flora becomes smitten with the viscount, things get complicated. Flora is tongue-tied in his presence. To help, Hattie feeds her information about Mateo’s interests. Soon things turn around and Flora appears on track to become his duchess. Yet for Mateo, something’s not quite right. Conversation with Flora isn’t as scintillating as it is with Hattie…
I adored this story! It may just be my favorite book by Julia London and I've read a whole lot of books by her. It's filled with sweet moments, frustrating family, sparkling banter, a determined matchmaker, and a lead couple who captured my heart.
I want to be Hattie's friend. I like her, respect her, admire her. Her so-called friends don't deserve her, her family doesn't deserve her, her louse of an ex-fiancé certainly didn't deserve her. You know who does? Teo, Duke of Santiava and Viscount Abbott. He deserves her. And Hattie deserves him. It's like these two were made for one another. I loved how London brought them together then slowly guided them along the path to friendship, understanding, and, finally, love. It was so much fun to watch Hattie take life by the horns, discarding society's "rules" and fully embracing her true self. She's a talkative breath of fresh air in Teo's quiet life, engaging him as an equal, unafraid to speak her mind, and charming not only him but his entire staff.
And then there's Teo, a quiet man who has retreated into himself after a lifetime of verbal abuse from his father. With Hattie, he comes alive. With Hattie, he finds his voice. With Hattie, he shares all parts of himself, even his secret hobby (A duke/viscount who whips up the most delicious pastries in London? Yes, please!). With Hattie, he allows himself to be vulnerable while also finding his strength. An endearing combination that capture not only Hattie's heart but mine as well.
Are there obstacles to overcome in this cross-class romance? Absolutely. Hallie's obnoxious family and Teo's overbearing mother, just to name two. But with the unexpected help of a determined matchmaker who believes in love and a gentleman nanny/uncle/what exactly is he who seems to know everything about everyone, these two just might find their way to a happily ever after. I was with them, cheering them on, every step of the way.
Bonus: for those of you who enjoy a good epilogue, this one is an absolute delight that had me laughing, sighing, and cheering, especially over a certain "twist" pertaining to finding one's voice. I loved it!
The Viscount Who Vexed Me is the third book in Julia London's A Royal Match series. There are a few characters from the first two books who have key secondary roles in this one (the matchmaker, for one) but Hattie's and Teo's journey is fully contained within this third book. In my opinion, it can be read and enjoyed as a standalone. However, I do recommend both book one, Last Duke Standing (read my review) and book two, The Duke Not Taken.(read my review).
The next book in this series, An Inconvenient Earl, is scheduled to be published in December of this year. I already have it on pre-order.