Friday, July 8, 2016

The Perfect Love Story

Before I even start talking about these books, I have to thank two ladies for putting them on my radar - Betty for giving me the first one as a Christmas present & Kelly for reading it and telling me I would like it. Anyway, on to the books! I do love indulging in historical romance series, and I'm a sucker for series where the characters are all related to or friends with one another. The Merridew Sisters is a set of four books about four sisters in one family, so immediately, it already appealed to me. Throw in a lot of humor and plenty of heart, and it's no surprise that I devoured this series in the course of three days!

The Perfect Rake book coverThe Perfect Rake by Anne Gracie
Series: The Merridew Sisters #1
Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Publication Date: July 5, 2005
Source: Paperback gifted by Betty (Thanks!)

I hadn’t really intended on reading this historical romance novel just yet, but Kelly mentioned that she had really enjoyed it and I was sold! I cracked it open on a lazy Friday evening… and I barely set it down until I hit the ending because it was just that compelling. The premise revolves around Prudence Merridew, the eldest of the Merridew sisters. She is determined to keep her sisters safe from their tyrannical grandfather and orchestrates an escape to London. In order to move forward with their plans to see one of them married, Prudence concocts a fake secret engagement to a reclusive duke. Unfortunately, her plans are thwarted by the duke’s arrival in town and by Gideon Carradice, the duke’s handsome rakish cousin – and everything spirals into a set of shenanigans worthy of a romantic comedy. Initially, I had my reservations, but eventually, a moment came (in the earliest chapters) that immediately tugged me into the story. I fell in love with Prue and her sisters, their personalities and relationships really making it easy to tell them apart. And I was instantly charmed by Gideon, who was funny and clever and thoughtful and wonderful. It was, without a doubt, one of the most deliciously entertaining historical romances I’ve ever read, and I finished it feeling very warm and fuzzy and giddy.

The Perfect Waltz book cover
The Perfect Waltz by Anne Gracie
Series: The Merridew Sisters #2
Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Publication Date: November 1, 2005
Source: e-book borrowed from the library

I immediately borrowed this book from the library after the first, because I wanted more of the Merridew Sisters. This story is about Sebastian Reyne, who is determined to find a loving, practical wife during the London Season in order to help with the care of his younger sisters. He has a particular lady in mind but one encounter with the lively Hope Merridew has him off-kilter. Hope, for her part, is intrigued by mysterious, secretive Sebastian, and cannot help her attraction to him. As these two get to know each other, secrets are revealed, relationships are formed and a lovely romance blossoms. Oh, I absolutely loved this story! I’m a sucker for stories where the hero is a big brother (which probably comes from my lifelong desire to have an older brother), and Sebastian is one of the good ones who truly loves his sisters and wants the best for them. I fell in love with him easily, in spite of his stubbornness. I fell in love just as quickly with Hope, who is vibrant and kind and clever. And, of course, as with the previous novel, the secondary cast of characters were really excellent sources of humor and heart! This story is not quite as comedic at the first (though it does have its moments); it definitely has a more dramatic tone. I laughed, I cried and I finished it, again, feeling extremely pleased and full and warm.

The Perfect Stranger book cover
The Perfect Stranger by Anne Gracie
Series: The Merridew Sisters #3
Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Publication Date: June 6, 2006
Source: e-book borrowed from the library

Upon finishing the second novel, I immediately grabbed the third one because I was completely invested in the fate of all these sisters. This is the story of Miss Faith Merridew, Hope’s reserved twin sister, who thought herself in love with a talented violinist. Right at the start, readers will learn that Faith’s dreams have been dashed and that she’s determined to independently find her way back to England, to her family. Her plans change when she receives unexpected aid from a stranger named Nicholas… and you can probably guess how things go from there. I had no idea what to make of this premise initially, let me tell you. But I warmed to it with every successive chapter. Faith became a gal that I could really root for and see myself in, as she starts off with next to no survival skills but eventually develops an independent streak and a skill set that would make any traveler proud. She’s so strong, and surprisingly open to other people, considering the hell she’s been through and I loved her more for it. And then there is Nicholas, who is an ex-soldier on a mission, and who has such a big heart and a generous spirit. He is the protective kind of male, and I loved that about him! Together, these two definitely experience quite a few shenanigans, and as their circumstances change, they also slowly develop a deep-rooted romance. As for the story, it was compelling! This is the first of this series that takes place away from the rest of the family. They’re basically on a journey in a completely different country (France, to be precise), and I liked that a lot. The travels, the adventures, the shenanigans and the people they meet along the way – it was all really well done. I even enjoyed how one of the major plot points was resolved in an extremely unexpected way! All in all, I really adored this one and can definitely tell you that it’s my favorite of this series.

The Perfect Kiss book cover
The Perfect Kiss by Anne Gracie
Series: The Merridew Sisters #4
Publisher: Berkley Sensation
Publication Date: January 2, 2007
Source: e-book borrowed from the library

If I had to pick which of the series is my least favorite, this would definitely be the book. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy it, because I did. But it reminded me a little bit of historical romances I’ve read (specifically this one) before, so that was disconcerting. Basically, this is the story of the youngest Merridew sister, Grace. Her best friend Melly has been betrothed to Dominic Wolfe but is thoroughly opposed to marrying a complete stranger. Grace is accompanying Melly and Melly’s father on a trip to Melly’s future home in order to convince Dominic to not go through with the marriage and save her friend. Things go awry when Melly’s father falls ill, Dominic proves to be a stubborn gentleman and Grace and Dominic find themselves attracted to one another… While I loved the concept of a man learning to love the legacy left to him (I’m a sucker for that story), I wasn’t always comfortable with the romance brewing between him and Grace. It’s not because of a potential love triangle (it’s very clear that there isn’t one from the start), but it’s just because of the position they’re in (he as master of the house; her as a “companion”) and how he occasionally makes his approaches on her. But I couldn’t help being charmed by bits of it, particularly towards the end. (The epilogue, in particular, marks a lovely conclusion to this series!)

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