The Lady Most Willing is a novel in three parts written by Julia Quinn, Eloisa James, and Connie Brockway. Those three names alone should be enough to peak your curiosity. It is being published by Avon and will go on sale on December 26, 2012.
During their annual Christmas pilgrimage to Scotland to visit their aged uncle in his decrepit castle, the Comte de Rocheforte (Robin Parles) and his cousin, Earl of Oakley (Byron Wooton), are presented with unique gifts: their uncle (Taran) has raided an English lord’s Christmas party and kidnapped four lovely would-be brides for his heirs to choose from …as well as one very angry duke, Lord John Bretton. As snow isolates the castle, and as hours grow into days, the most honourable intentions give away to temptations as surprising as they are irresistible.
The writing is stellar, as you would expect from this trio of authors. Perhaps the biggest compliment I could give is that their styles meld seamlessly and the characters, especially one in particular who plays a minor but important role in all of the stories, are flushed out and consistent.
I truly enjoyed the pairings of the couples. I especially liked the first couple, Lord John Bretton and Ms. Catriona Burns. The night that they were kidnapped and brought to Taran’s castle, John and Catriona are left alone as others leave to go to their rooms or as their hosts search for rooms for these two. They like each other’s company instantly and it leads to this moment:
“I don’t even know what we’re laughing about,” she said with a helpless smile.
“Nor I,” he admitted.
The laughter fell softly away.
“We must be hungry,” she said quietly.
“Insensible,” she whispered.
He stepped toward her. He couldn’t not. “Completely.”
And then he kissed her. Right there in front of the fire in Taran Ferguson’s sitting room, he did the one thing he shouldn’t do.
He kissed her.
I had two problems with the book.
First, there are 8 (EIGHT) characters. And even though only two or three are spotlighted at a time, I did struggle to keep everyone straight. At times it brought me completely out of the reading as I went back to check to see how people were related or check details of a character who had previously been introduced but hadn’t been heard from in a while.
Second, I just don’t buy that four couples fell in love in a three-day span. I often suspend belief while reading romance novels but there are some things I can’t get past. This is one. I found myself actually physically rolling my eyes at the ridiculous time table in this book.
In the end, though, I enjoyed this book. It’s not my most favorite book ever and I’m not sure I’ll return to it. But I would recommend it.
I give The Lady Most Willing 3 out of 5 stars.