The fourth and final of Loretta Chase’s Carsington Brothers series, this is the one with the secret baby. I’m fairly new to romance and actually had never read a secret baby novel before, only know about it as a trope, so I went in curiously. Basically, as a teenager Charlotte was seduced by a rake, had a secret baby (while he abandoned her and then got killed a duel), and gave it away — no one knows but her step-mother. Meanwhile, Darius is a heartless rake obsessed with logic and science, whose father tells him he can either manage a piece of the family’s property and make it profitable within a year (an impossible task, since the property has been abandoned for a decade and is totally unliveable) or he can marry an heiress. Of course he takes up the challenge, but meets Charlotte and falls for her — and then discovers the secret baby.
So, how did I feel about the cliché? It delighted me! The whole book did, rather. I tore through it; it took me awhile to warm up to Darius, but when he sat down and realized that yes, then logical thing to do when he’d screwed up was to apologize and ask for help, he won me over. (Hey, I’m easy.)
The weakness of this book is that there’s literally nothing to it but the secret baby. They meet! They fall in love! He finds out! He marries her anyway! The end! There’s sort of an antagonist, in that there’s another guy who’s in love with her, and he finds out about the baby and assumes Darius is nothing but a rake and she’s going to end up in trouble again, so he…tells her he knows, proposes, and she says no, and that’s the end of it. He doesn’t really do anything antagonistic, now that I think about it. At all. There wasn’t even a big misunderstanding; at one point there was a set up for one, but then Darius and Charlotte talked it out on the next page instead of not speaking for weeks and crying about it. So the book was rather light in the plot department, but enjoyable all the same.
Because I’m the sort of person who likes to list and innumerate things, having read the whole series, my favorite is definite Lord Perfect, in which the, well, perfect oldest son needs to learn to loosen up and that it’s okay to fall in love with the wrong woman. I think that Mr. Impossible is my second favorite, followed by Not Quite a Lady; I like Rupert and Daphne better as characters, and enjoy a lot of elements of that book more — but it also had a pacing issue, looking back; it wasn’t really about the plot, so that just wandered all over the place awkwardly and dragged things out. Sort of the opposite of Not Quite a Lady. (Which leaves Miss Wonderful in the last-but-not-least slot; it was fine, but neither of the characters, nor the set up, particularly interested me.)