Top positive review
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I hate to break the 5 star roll . . .
on October 17, 2003
. . . but though I enjoyed this book, I can't give it 5 stars. This third in the author's "Rogues Club" series follows the pattern of her prior two stories (UNDENIABLE & UNFORGETTABLE) which are really more about the coming together of a family than any wild roguish adventures.
Reed Gilbride has always known that the people who raised him were not truly his parents, so when he receives an anonymous letter telling him that he is the lost heir to the earl of Barrington, he's determined to find out once and for all who he really is. And if that means a title and an estate in the bargain, well so much the better!
Chastity Somers was briefly married to another recipient of an identical letter, and though William Somers died on the trip from France, Chastity is determined to complete his mission. She wants to turn the Barrington estate into a children's home - especially after meeting William's four young orphaned cousins who she takes into her care. And if no other legitimate heir comes forward by the 20th anniversary of the old earl's death, the house will belong to her. So when Reed shows up, she's more than wary. He's handsome, masculine, loathes children and has a similar claim that threatens her plans. But the house needs repairs and she'll need help providing for the children so she agrees to let him say on as a caretaker.
And he certainly does take care of them, teaching them to plant crops, milk the cow, cook and generally take care of themselves (he grew up the oldest child on a farm) and somewhere along the way, they all bond with children and adults becoming dangerously attached. But there is someone behind the scenes that threatens their tranquility and their lives in the name of revenge. And what happens if Reed finds the proof he needs to back up his claim? Will Chastity and the children simply move on somewhere else? And if he doesn't find proof, will he simply walk away and leave them - will they let him?
There were some very sweet, funny, scary and sexy moments in this book, but there were also places where it dragged or went off course (the balloon episode seemed particularly pointless) and I found my attention wandering. And the whole "I love you but we can never be together" thing got a bit old. But the children were charming and the romance between Chastity and Reed was sweet and hot! Reed was a particularly likeable hero, funny, sardonic, sexy and strong. Chastity was kindhearted, sweet and naïve to the point of sometimes coming off as a ditz.
On the whole an enjoyable read with a nice family dynamic - something this author does particularly well. I just think the rest of the story could have been a bit better, tighter. But fans will likely disagree and love it anyway.