The opening exchange between widowed Elinor Colton and Ross Thornbury had great potential. Their conversation about a fig leaf on a statue could have started the build up to a steamy romance and HEA. However, after the fig leaf situation, Elinor encounters her late husband's cousin, Mr. Browne, and their talk leads to Thornbury's plans for his estate and the need for access to hers. It sets the tone for the remainder of the book. This book should have been a romance. Yet, it revolves around Thornbury wanting to build a foundry on his property and needing water access from hers. She refuses because her cousin tells her how much smoke the foundry will belch, destroying the house her husband built for her. The romance part comes from "The Rake's Handbook: Including Field Guide" that Ross wrote as sarcasm and people took as fact. Yes, Ross is a Rake and quotes from the book in an attempt to seduce Elinor. .
I was bored with the "I need access to your land" and "Don't give him access to your land. It will ruin our village and your home." I was surprised that I got to the beginning of chapter nine, or 118 pages on my e-reader, before I stopped and read the ending. The sad part is, I thought that Elinor and Ross were great characters. It is proof that you can still have great characters and a bad book. Unless you are a fan of the Industrial Revolution in England, DO NOT BOTHER.
I received this book as an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.