I do not think that there can ever be enough books about anything and I say that knowing that some of them are going to be about Pilates.The more knowledge the better seems like a solid rule of thumb, even though I have watched enough science fiction films to accept that humanity’s unchecked pursuit of learning will end with robots taking over the world.-Sarah Vowell

Monday, May 1, 2017

Kiss Me, Annabel by Eloisa James

In this second book of the Essex sisters series, Annabel is having her season in London in 1817 and she is has been calmly calculating the right man to marry. One who is rich enough that she will never have to worry about being poor again and one who is agreeable enough to endure being married to.  At a ball, she meets Ewan, the Earl of Ardmore who hails from Scotland and who is in England searching for a bride, which can only mean one thing: he needs a rich dowry because he is another poor Scotsman like her father who did the same thing.

Annabel's younger sister Imogen who is in mourning over her two-week marriage to the love of her life, Draven, has been acting outrageously. She has been wearing daring gowns and now she intends to take a cicisbeo or a man who takes her around town and can sometimes be her lover.  Draven hasn't even been dead six months yet.  Her first thought is the Earl of Mayne her chaperone's brother and her former (though he doesn't see it that way) guardian Rafe, the Duke of Holbrook's best friend. But Griselda, Mayne's sister talks her out of it only to have her decide to try out the Earl of Ardmore.  At the ball, Ewan meets up with Annabel and they talk, but Imogen quickly swoops in and takes him off to the dance floor where she makes a fool of herself by draping herself all over him intimating that something was going on between them.  That kind of action will get her ostracized by the ton even more than she has been.  But Isobel does not care about her reputation.

At a garden party that celebrates May Day, Annabel has finally gotten her prized gentleman, Lord Rosseter to ask for her hand and he is going to propose at this fete.  Who cares if he doesn't talk and if he's twenty years older than she is.  He has lots of money to keep her happy and he is not brutish.  But at the party, she runs into Ewan who challenges her to an archery contest for a forfeit. It would be a bit scandalous if she were to compete and she can sense that Rosseter is against it, but she takes the wager anyway and wins. The couple who are having the party are so thrilled with them that they declare them the King and Queen of the May and have them ride around the grounds in a cart bedecked with flowers. The cart goes around the back of the house so the servants can see, but the servants aren't back there and Ewan stops the cart and kisses her quite thoroughly.  He asks her to marry him, but she says no because she does not want to marry an impoverished Scotsman.  Needless to say, Lord Rosseter has decided to not propose and Ewan is cornered by Imogen who proposes to him that they meet for an illicit rendezvous. He instead asks her to marry him as he sees that she is in a great deal of pain and he seeks to ease her burden and he is looking for a wife and he has no intention of going to meet her to have sex with her.  But she wants no marriage with him. And when she tells him she intends to go and ask Mayne and he instead tries to scare her off by being as crude as he can with her about what he expects from her when she comes to his bedchambers that night at eleven.

Imogen does see that there is no way she can have sex with Ewan because she isn't capable of doing those things and she tells Griselda. So that night Griselda and Annabel go to his chambers in a hotel on the way to a ball, which could ruin all of their reputations, in order to talk to him. While there a group of robbers arrives and the women run and hide.  The robbers take even his clothes and Annabel was near the balcony and called down for help and the robbers heard her and brought her into the room where Ewan was half naked.  They are seen by Lady Bechschmidt who was the one to call the police and come up with her coachman.  At this time Ewan is just putting his shirt on and things look fishy because Imogen and Griselda aren't in the room.  But before Lady Bechschmidt can think of spreading this bit of gossip Griselda reminds her her carriage was parked out front and she is just as open to gossip as they are.  But the next day the papers are full of a story about an A.E. who was in the room of the Earl of Ardmore who was buck naked and that she was asking that their relationship not continue.  It turns out the manager of the hotel sold his story to the papers.  Now Annabel is compromised and must marry Ewan who is more than happy with this turn of events.  Annabel, however, is heartbroken, no matter that his kisses leave her breathless.  It turns out he has a stable of horses just like her father. And like her father he is a penniless Scot. Which is why her sisters come up with a plan that if she is not happy she can come back to London and live with her older sister Tess and her husband after six months.

Of course, the Earl is really rich, but he doesn't tell her that. He decides that he doesn't want to get married to her in England but in Scotland by this monk that he is rather close to, but it will appear as though they got married in England.  So the two set off for Scotland and Ewan uses this time to court Annabel until things go wrong when he gets the stupid idea to borrow a one-room home of a couple who is about to give birth and send them to the next town where they can have the comforts of an inn and a midwife present and they would stay in their home and look after everything, such as the cow and the chickens.  He thought it would get Annabel over her fear of being poor.  But he didn't count on the fact that he had never had to live in these conditions himself ever either.  And they had been hoping to wait til their wedding night to consummate it, but can they keep that hope, as with each kiss they give each other for answering questions honestly they come closer and closer to going over the edge.

I really enjoyed this delightful book. Annabel had a hard time believing that a man could love her only desire her and that men get desire and love mixed up, so Ewan has a hard road to go to prove that he loves her and he will require help.  Ewan is also a religious man whose greatest fear is losing his immortal soul.  It's why even though he is a big strong man he didn't overpower the robbers and take their guns because that would mean he might have to kill them and he could never do that. It is much easier to just give them what they want which are things that are replaceable. Annabel is not very religious and worries about measuring up to his standards.  These two wonderful characters needed a lot of help to get together. Luckily they had it in spades.

Link to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Kiss-Annabel-Essex-Sisters-Book-ebook/dp/B000FCKL3O/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1493643789&sr=8-1&keywords=kiss+me+annabel

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