Sweet Enemy, by Heather Snow

>> Sunday, November 17, 2013

TITLE: Sweet Enemy
AUTHOR: Heather Snow

COPYRIGHT: 2012
PAGES: 359
PUBLISHER: Signet Eclipse

SETTING: Early 19th century England
TYPE: Romance
SERIES: 1st in the Veiled Seduction series

Geoffrey Wentworth, a war hero and rising political star, never wanted to be the Earl, but when his brother dies, he knows his duty--take up the responsibility for his family's estates. His mother's definition of duty differs from his, however, and can be summed up in one word--heirs. When Geoffrey rushes home to answer her urgent summons, he finds himself host to a house full of women, all vying to become the next Countess of Stratford. But his love is Parliament, where he wields his influence and reputation to better the lives of ex-soldiers, until a tempting houseguest and a secret from his past threaten his freedom...and his heart.

Liliana Claremont, a brilliant chemist, doesn't want to be any man's wife, much less a countess. If she had tuppence for every time she'd been told her place was filling the nursery, not experimenting in the laboratory, she could buy the Tower Bridge. However, when she receives a coveted invitation to the Earl's house party, she trades in her beakers for ball gowns and gladly takes on the guise of husband hunter--for the chance to uncover what the Earl had to do with the murder of her father.

Liliana believes the best way to get the answers she needs is to keep her enemy close, though romance is not part of her formula. But it only takes one kiss to start a reaction she can't control...

It's been ages since I've discovered a new historical romance author that I liked. I do still have some old favourites, but I've been reading less and less regular historical romance in the last couple of years (by regular, I mean non-steampunk, non-paranormal... you know). The sound of this one intrigued me, though, and new author, yay!

Liliana Claremont is a gifted chemist, and she intends to devote the rest of her life to the pursuit of her science. This means not getting married, but Liliana is ok with that. Her father left her a modest amount of money when he died, and that's enough for her to live as she wants to.

And then she discovers evidence that her father was killed for his involvement in some sort of spy activity. The evidence points towards her father's betrayer being from Somerton Park, the residence of the Earls of Stratford, and Liliana feels she has an obligation to her father to investigate. Pretending she wants to find a husband, she gets her aunt to let her join her and her daughter at a house party in Somerton Park.

That house party has been thrown by the Geoffrey Wentworth, the current Earl's mother against his will. She's determined to find him a wife, and has invited as many eligible young woman as she could think of -including, cleverly, some with fathers who are influential in Parliament, and whose support Geoffrey does want to court. He's a military man, you see, and he's determined to use his unexpected title (he was a second son) to improve the lot of men like those he commanded.

Geoffrey doesn't intend to find a wife during the party, but then he meets Liliana, and his attention is engaged. She'd much rather stay under the radar, but once her aunt realises Geoff's interested, Liliana can't but spend time with him if she wants to stay there long enough to discover the truth.

I was a bit doubtful at first when I realised that Liliana, supposedly a scientist, and whom I would have expected to do a bit more logical forward planning, goes off half-cocked, intending to discover who betrayed her father... somehow, and to expose the culprit... somehow. I rolled my eyes. But if you stick with it and get past that particular silliness, this is a good book.

It is Snow's first book, and it shows. There's a bit of clunkiness here and there, but there's also a lot of originality and freshness, and the characters are well drawn. Apart from that blip of the setup, Liliana is believable as a scientist, and Geoffrey as a man who never wanted or expected to be an Earl, but who now feels obligated to use the power of his station to better the lives of others. The chemistry between them is well done, and I liked that Geoffrey was attracted to Liliana's intelligence. I even thought the suspense element was handled well.

This is an author to watch, and I will definitely be reading more by her.

MY GRADE: A B.

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