Length: 390 pages, time taken: 3 hours
Clio Whitmore is tired of waiting for her fiancé to come back to the country and marry her, and now she finally has the means to create a life for herself, she wants her engagement dissolved. Rafe Brandon, the erstwhile groom's brother, has the legal power to do so, but instead of giving her what she wants, he tries to persuade her into going ahead. Unfortunately for him, it turns out that kissing her in the rain and groping her in the bedroom are not, in fact, good ways to persuade someone to marry your brother. Can this twisted mess of family and honour be untangled satisfactorily, or will they be trapped in lives they never asked for?
I was inspired to get this after reading Mrs Julien's excellent review of it, and I am very glad I did. This book is funny, sexy, and assured, and has the right balance of following the tropes of the genre whilst still making the plot surprising and enjoyable to read. if you read this, you are in very safe hands, and I will keep my eye out for more Dare the next time I feel the need for a historical romance book-blankie. (That's pretty much how I think of books like this, being wrapped in a warm blanket with a cup of hot chocolate and a few candles. It's not complicated, but sometimes, you need it.)
Given the long and impressive comments Mrs Julien got, anything that I could have niggled about has mostly been answered already. The only thing I was less happy with was Piers Brandon, who was much better as an off-camera neglectful arse than he was as an on-camera SPOILERS REDACTED character in the story. I would have preferred either a better explanation and more exposition, or him being a less sympathetic character. Then again, he's clearly being set up for a book of his own, as is Clio's sister Phoebe, so I can understand the decision to both make him sympathetic and not give huge amounts of exposition - that will come in his own novel.
4.5 stars: practically perfect, sweet as cake and warm as a winter fireplace.
Cross-posted to Cannonball Read here.