Genre: Historical Romance/Suspense
Samantha Hastings lived a quiet, peaceful life on her family’s country estate. With no man to order her around and no stifling society rules to follow, she considered herself blessed. However, when her brother’s ship sinks during a short trip to France, Samantha receives a request from her sister-in-law to return to town and manage the late Earl’s finances. Suddenly thrust into society, Samantha faces an unfamiliar world and a pair of very familiar green eyes.
Lord Benjamin Westwood never intended on following through with his rash promise to his best friend. Now, with Edward’s death, Benjamin becomes the unwilling guardian to Edward’s bratty little sister, who has grown up considerably since the last time they met. His intention to marry her off to the first available suitor is thwarted when he finds himself falling for Samantha’s unique demeanor. He lights upon the perfect plan; a marriage of convenience, giving him the opportunity to romance Samantha without distraction.
However, when they discover Edward’s disappearance was due to foul play, Benjamin’s perfect plan begins to quickly unravel. Now, Samantha is in more danger than either of them realized and Benjamin is running out of time.
A Perfect Plan opens with a strong twitch inducing murder scene that implies layers of intrigue followed by more deaths. Key details are rapidly formed including; 19th-century timeline, a female lead, a gaggle of adorable brats and the scheming widowed sister who simply refused to let tomboyish Sam make it to twenty-two without a man at her beck and call.
Following directly behind that we have the other half of our cast, a male lead named Benjamin whose mother also pushes for blissful matrimony whilst his twin jeers. Now these two have met prior to the stories opening as Benjamin’s first recollection of Sam is being attacked with a foil and gaining the White Scar of Fate which linked them together (or something – this may vary by region).
The next few chapters were interesting enough to make me outright forget about the opening murder – an impressive trick. I got swept away in the unusual wording. Phrase choice was both archaic enough to be educational (rakes gather more than one type of fallen petals I suppose) and modern enough to make sense. I enjoyed the vibe created by conversation flow that would be out of place in my neck of the woods. Here’s one –
“Another lie. Benjamin, I am not one of those naive young women you can deceive with your smooth tongue.”
This felt wonderfully spoken for the era and dialog like this kept me reading. Other awesome words included ‘stoat’, ‘cad’, ‘shimmy’, ‘odious’ and ‘torrid’ – now these wouldn’t throw off a seasoned reader but the inexperienced may pause for a moment. Lesser known is the actual reason behind a ‘dance card’ – which is used frequently in the first scenes. As such; minor amounts of research may be required for anyone new to the era.
Now for anyone that missed the opening blurb up above – this is at the core a romance novel with murder in the backdrop. There are points where the main characters are reduced to barely disguised baser instincts while in contemplation of each other’s various charms and held captive by their natural inability to resist the desire to ravish each other.
To reiterate, this story is about the connections between Sam and Benjamin. If the start grips with you with well-described violence and intrigue, the next few chapters may disappoint. My interest waned as the opening events weren’t directly touched upon (because where’s my dramatic intrigue and more deaths!) but instead used a background catalyst for a huge chunk of the novel. At long last, around the halfway point, our storyline broke from romance and brought the murder back to my attention (A-ha, I found it). The mystery picked back up and suddenly I found my investment renewed enough to finish the story.
Ultimately I consider A Perfect Plan to be well written but plain story. I say this because writing a relationship with anything new (at least for a jaded soul such as I) is requires something outlandish. The main point of originality which separated it from many others I’ve read – was how it covered both lead roles with alternating chapters – thus allowing us to see more of the story. The scenes were lengthy enough to cover a decent amount of storyline – even if parts of it are borderline base scandal. Eventually the action picked up but the story still focused on Sam and Benjamin. Frustratingly – aside from the split point of view – nearly every other aspect of the plot felt familiar – as in something I’d read before or seen in a movie.
If I were a completely callous soul – I would call A Perfect Plan “A trope fueled story where a rake falls for a beautiful shrew, then attempts to redeem himself to get into her knickers. Oh, and someone got murdered.” – but despite the regurgitated themes, this book is actually “A well-written story of when a roughish man falls for a strong-willed and beautiful woman… …and someone got murdered.” In sum; if you’re looking blood, guts, murder and mayhem (and the opening may mislead you into believing these things happen frequently) – this book probably isn’t for you. If a romance with mild sex scenes and tactfully phrased carnal thoughts in a 19th-century drama is your thing – this book is a good way to pass time.
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.