Zachary always gets what he wants, and what he wants is Lady Holly Taylor. As Holly is leaving a ball, the first real outing she has attempted after having been in mourning for three years since the death of her beloved husband, she is swept up in a kiss by Zachary Bronson. Neither knows the identity of the other on the darkened conservatory, but each feels the passion and the allure of the kiss. It is at this point that Zachary decides he is going to make Lady Holly his. It is too, at this point, that something is ignited deep within this young, beautiful widow.
Zachary is a very wealthy, self-made man, something unheard of in the ton. Blue-blood is the only blood that matters, the only blood that makes you a true gentleman. Zachary is the first to admit that he is not a gentleman. It is this knowledge that he uses as a premise to lure Holly and her daughter onto his estate. Lessons. Lessons in manners, lessons in deportment, lessons in chivalry.....lessons in everything gentlemanly. Zachary is willing to pay Holly a huge sum of money, not only to turn him into a gentleman respected by the peerage, but also to give his beautiful sister, Lizzie, etiquette lessons as well so that she may make a productive match for herself. But once the prim and proper Lady Holly embarks on this mission, she is shocked to find herself falling for this brute of a man, a man, she discovers, who is more than the breadth of his shoulders and the fortune he amasses. But how could she fall for someone so different than her first love, George. George would never approve of her finding love with someone so beneath her status, someone so feral. But how can Holly resist Zachary when he is so vulnerable, yearning to be accepted and loved for who he truly is.
I truly enjoyed this book. I loved the hero....striking, big and brawny, devoted, intelligent, loyal and passionate. Something about a man fighting his way out of poverty using his physicality and his intelligence is very attractive! I loved how he was able to admit to himself that he was falling in love with a woman. And I loved that he told her so, even at the risk of being rejected for the "commoner" he was. I was happy to see that Zachary wouldn't change for anyone. He knew his flaws, but wasn't willing to change for anyone....he stayed true to his self. The sexual chemistry between the hero and heroine is hot. I loved how Zachary ignited a passion in Holly that was beneath the surface of her lady-like composure. But I did get tired of her holding on to the ghost of her first husband for so long throughout the tale. Having read so many of Lisa Kleypas' novels, my expectations were high and I was not disappointed. Kleypas has once again created characters that come to life on the page, characters that make you yell in frustration...characters that make you laugh uncontrollably.....characters that make you weep with sorrow....characters that make you cry out in anguish. Rose, Holly's four year old daughter, is one such character that touches the reader with her innocent charm and childish honesty. Tears slipped down my cheeks as she was saying goodbye to Zachary, a scene that reveals his inner anguish.
"Will I ever see you and Lizzie again?" Rose asked woefully. Zachary couldn't bring himself to lie to her. "Not very often, I'm afraid". "You'll miss me awfully," she said, heaving a sigh, and she began to fumble for something in the pocket of her pinafore. Something went wrong with Zachary's eyes, some odd blurring and stinging that he couldn't seem to blink away. "Every day princess." "Are you going to cry, Mr. Bronson?" the child asked in concern, coming to stand beside his knees, staring into his downturned face. He managed to smile at her. "Just a little on the inside," he said raspily. He felt her little hand on his cheek, and he held utterly still as she kissed him on the nose. "Good-bye, Mr. Bronson," she whispered, and she left with her button string trailing dolefully behind her.This book is a hidden gem that I think romance addicts will adore. It brings with it a wonderful message that is applicable throughout the ages. Even if we lose a love, the world can bring us another. Love comes in different forms.....it can be soft and romantic, tender and loyal, or passionately sensual and zealous. All are different, but the same.....the end result is happiness.