This is a sweet and unexpected romance but too short for 5 stars. If this romance were a little longer, I'd have given it 5 stars. But I think the length may have been dictated by the plot and it was lovely and sweet so I still recommend it.
This romance starts out like many others -- with an arranged marriage between two people who do not want an arranged marriage. Annabelle, daughter of an earl in need of a cash infusion, has been caught in the process of eloping with her father's groom. Now she is ruined and no one of her rank, much less one with the money her father needs, will offer for her. Reginald is the son of a man who made his fortune in the coal business but who cannot break into polite society no matter how he tries. Reginald has been educated as a gentleman and has picked up bad spending and gambling habits from his classmates. When Reginald's father learns that Annabelle, daughter of his snobbish neighbor, is ruined he goes to see the earl to arrange a marriage between their children. If Reginald does not marry Annabelle, he will be cut off from funds.
After this beginning one might expect the plot to go in a predictable fashion, but Mary Balogh is a master at changing up the expected romance plot and she does it again in this book. I won't give anything away to spoil the plot but what the author did with it was lovely. Those of you who want a steamy romance (i.e. lots of sex scenes) will be disappointed, but you should still give this book a chance. Readers who want romance first and foremost and don't really want steamy should definitely read this book.
I checked this book out from my local library.