Nivea Horsham has loved her brothers best friend, Adair Landis for fifteen years. Adair is taking Nivea to her family's estate where her younger sister is getting married. While in the first hours of their journey, the coach hits a ditch and the axle breaks. Landis decides to unhitch the horses and ride to Vincent Hall. This requires Nivea to also ride. Her family is horse obsessed and Nivea hates riding. Because she wants to attend the wedding, she is forced to ride. When they get to her family's estate, she has lost quite a bit of weight due to the exercise and has also gained confidence. After Nivea's maid alters her gowns, Landis starts to really notice her. He ends up seducing her and thoroughly breaking her heart when he calls her a whore after her closest male (and married) friend invites her to lunch. In London, Dare returns to his man-whore ways and slowly comes to realize that he needs Nivea to complete him. He only acts when his father who is on his death bed signs a contract for Dare to marry the neighbor.
I am of two minds about this novel. I liked the quick witted writing and thought the ending was great. While Nivea starts off as an plump wallflower that is invisible to her brother's arrogant friend, she grows into a desirable confident woman as she loses more weight. She is able to deal with Dare seducing her then dumping her.
On the other side, there were things throughout the novel that I got annoyed about. I did not like the character of Dare until almost the end and found him exactly as how the book described him: arrogant and supercilious and even shallow. There were many times that I wanted to reach in and just smack Dare and yell at Nivea that she could do much better that a man-whore.
I was totally surprised to find out that this is the authors first novel and this isn't the last in a series. There are many places in the book where it reads like the author is reminding the readers of events that took place in past novels. One big pet peeve is the form of address for Nivea. As her father is the Earl of Cheltenham, she is not "Miss Horsham" but "Lady Nivea". And the cover! Dare had been abused by his father and had horrible scars on his back. He would only have sex with women if he didn't expose his back. The guy on the cover needs a shirt.
On a side note, I searched the title to leave my review on Goodreads. Do editors check to see how many other books have the same title? I had to search by the author's name to find the title.
I received this book as an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you.