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Hopeless romantic, Lady Emmaline Fitzhugh, is tired of sitting with the wallflowers, waiting for her betrothed to come to his senses and marry her. When Emmaline reads one too many reports of his scandalous liaisons in the gossip rags, she takes matters into her own hands. War-torn veteran, Lord Drake devotes himself to forgetting his days on the Peninsula through an endle Hopeless romantic, Lady Emmaline Fitzhugh, is tired of sitting with the wallflowers, waiting for her betrothed to come to his senses and marry her. When Emmaline reads one too many reports of his scandalous liaisons in the gossip rags, she takes matters into her own hands. War-torn veteran, Lord Drake devotes himself to forgetting his days on the Peninsula through an endless round of meaningless associations. He no longer wants to feel anything, but Lady Emmaline is making it hard to maintain a state of numbness. With her zest for life, she awakens his passion and desire for love. The one woman Drake has spent the better part of his life avoiding is now the only woman he needs, but he is no longer a man worthy of his Emmaline. It is up to her to show him the healing power of love.


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Hopeless romantic, Lady Emmaline Fitzhugh, is tired of sitting with the wallflowers, waiting for her betrothed to come to his senses and marry her. When Emmaline reads one too many reports of his scandalous liaisons in the gossip rags, she takes matters into her own hands. War-torn veteran, Lord Drake devotes himself to forgetting his days on the Peninsula through an endle Hopeless romantic, Lady Emmaline Fitzhugh, is tired of sitting with the wallflowers, waiting for her betrothed to come to his senses and marry her. When Emmaline reads one too many reports of his scandalous liaisons in the gossip rags, she takes matters into her own hands. War-torn veteran, Lord Drake devotes himself to forgetting his days on the Peninsula through an endless round of meaningless associations. He no longer wants to feel anything, but Lady Emmaline is making it hard to maintain a state of numbness. With her zest for life, she awakens his passion and desire for love. The one woman Drake has spent the better part of his life avoiding is now the only woman he needs, but he is no longer a man worthy of his Emmaline. It is up to her to show him the healing power of love.

30 review for Forever Betrothed, Never the Bride

  1. 4 out of 5

    Carol Cork *Young at Heart Oldie*

    FOREVER BETROTHED, NEVER THE BRIDE is the first book I have read by Christi Caldwell and I was totally captivated by this charming, romantic, funny and poignant story. Drake resents the fact that his future had been mapped out for him since he was a young boy. Desperate to escape the exacting expectations imposed by his father, he enlists in the army only to find himself caught up in the horrors of the Napoleonic war…a war that he can never forget. He would never escape the war. His mind would FOREVER BETROTHED, NEVER THE BRIDE is the first book I have read by Christi Caldwell and I was totally captivated by this charming, romantic, funny and poignant story. Drake resents the fact that his future had been mapped out for him since he was a young boy. Desperate to escape the exacting expectations imposed by his father, he enlists in the army only to find himself caught up in the horrors of the Napoleonic war…a war that he can never forget. He would never escape the war. His mind would forever remain on the bloody fields of battle. Sleepless nights, hellish nightmares and bouts of lost self-control convince him that he is a madman. To retain a hold on sanity, he buries himself in mindless pursuits… drink and women…his relationships devoid of any emotional connection. He has no intention of marrying…he has no intention of submitting any woman to his dark nightmares. Although betrothed to Emmaline for fifteen years, their contact has been limited and, since his return from the war, he has deliberately avoided her. So he knows very little about Emmaline until one memorable encounter leaves him eager to find out more about his intriguing betrothed. Wallflowers were content to be dull creatures seated on the sidelines, escaping any notice. They were not clever young ladies with cheeky retorts. A little over 5 feet tall and lacking the requisite curves, Emmaline is considered rather unremarkable by the ton. Everyone knows she is betrothed and, therefore, honour dictates that no other gentleman can court her. Relegated to the being a virtual wallflower and food for the gossips, she has suffered the indignities with only her dear friend, Sophie for moral support. Although she longs for a marriage full of love and passion, her strong sense of loyalty to her father makes her determined to fulfil her obligation and marry Drake. Drastic situations require drastic measures. “There will be no more opera singers, ballet dancers, young widows, none of it. His days of carefree debauchery are officially at an end. He just doesn’t know it yet, but he will, beginning tonight.” Oh, Emmeline is such a delightful heroine…mischievous, courageous and funny. Oh yes, she also talks to plants and reads Gothic novels. When she decides to ‘stalk’ Drake, I thought it was hilarious. My favourite scene is when she suddenly appears unannounced in his opera box, proceeds to rebuke him for his behaviour and then makes a dramatic exit, leaving Drake furious. Drake sputtered around another mouthful of red velvet curtains as Lady Emmaline made her dramatic exit from his opera box. Cursing under his breath, he violently slammed the drapes down, back into place. I even felt a little sorry for Drake…poor man didn’t know what hit him! Emmaline’s compassion for and empathy with the soldiers she visits in the London Hospital has earned her their respect, admiration and loyalty. It also helps her to understand Drake and see beyond the protective barrier Drake has erected around himself to the emotionally scarred man beneath. She is perfect for Drake with her warmth, compassion and insight, she makes him laugh and feel alive again. I love tormented heroes because they always have a tougher time on their road to a happy ending but, it makes their journey more satisfying to me as a reader. Drake’s struggle to confront his wartime experiences and not run from them adds a serious note to the story and the scene where he visits the London Hospital and talks to fellow soldiers is both poignant and heart-warming. A wave of relief filled him. There was solace in knowing he was not alone – that there were others who shared his struggle. I love the analogy Emmeline’s brother, Sebastien draws between her old bonnet and Drake and it was a charming touch at the end when Sebastien says to a confused Drake… “Tell Emmeline to throw out the bonnet I’d given her. Tell her I said her bonnet is just fine.” Ms Caldwell has gathered an interesting cast of secondary characters, all begging for their own stories; Drake’s best friend, the straight-talking, witty Lord Sinclair (I loved their banter); Emmaline’s bubbly friend and confidante, Sophie Winters and Emmeline’s haughty, over-protective brother Sebastian, Duke of Mallen (he doesn’t stand a chance when Emmeline and their mother gang up against him). There is one more important character I must mention – a little, scruffy, black puppy called Sir Faithful. Overall, this was an engaging story written with warmth, wit and style and I will definitely be reading the other books in the series. REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS Scandalous Seasons series (click on the covers for more details):

  2. 5 out of 5

    Becca

    Disappointing. I tried for 20% of the book and then skipped to the end to see if anything got better to make it worth wading through. After the 80% mark, all we get are a bunch of repetitive sex scenes. This was not what I signed up for and I do not understand all of the hype and popularity. The writing was simplistic, the hero was betrothed to the heroine and even though the betrothal wasn't his choice, it did not excuse him from cheating on her with an opera singer (I know this was a norm back Disappointing. I tried for 20% of the book and then skipped to the end to see if anything got better to make it worth wading through. After the 80% mark, all we get are a bunch of repetitive sex scenes. This was not what I signed up for and I do not understand all of the hype and popularity. The writing was simplistic, the hero was betrothed to the heroine and even though the betrothal wasn't his choice, it did not excuse him from cheating on her with an opera singer (I know this was a norm back then, but I don't want to read how "nubile" she was), and he was cold. The heroine is always getting into scrapes and is screaming at people over injustices and it just was not fun to read about. I feel like I'm babbling. I don't like writing negative reviews, especially for authors that are new to me, but I just had to get my thoughts out there. I think she may be popular because of the excessive sex at the end and that just bugs me. I felt deceived. The writing is not the caliber of my other beloved romance authors and yet this author is super popular on Amazon. I am not sure why. Maybe she has a cult following who down vote the heck out of negative reviews, who knows. Anyway, I will not be trying other books by this author unless a goodreads buddy reads another one and enjoys it. For now, I'll pass on future books by her.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Sara Reads (mostly) Romance

    DNF 40%. Here was my progression of thoughts during the book. I knew it would be a waste of time and this far in the book, I know there are other more pressing things on my tbr list. If y'all think I should continue and that the hero can redeem himself from what a fucking cunty asshole he is please encourage me to continue. Otherwise, I'm done with this book. 20.0% "A fifth of the way in and I still fucking hate this hero, he's literally the biggest piece of shit for no reason at all. He's petty DNF 40%. Here was my progression of thoughts during the book. I knew it would be a waste of time and this far in the book, I know there are other more pressing things on my tbr list. If y'all think I should continue and that the hero can redeem himself from what a fucking cunty asshole he is please encourage me to continue. Otherwise, I'm done with this book. 20.0% "A fifth of the way in and I still fucking hate this hero, he's literally the biggest piece of shit for no reason at all. He's petty and childish and if he doesn't improve within the first half I'm dnfing and leaving this ish" 30.0% "Ok this piece of trash hero hasn’t improved at all and while assholes are okay, there’s a fucking limit, like when the hero insults the heroine over and over again yet she still pines after him? He’ll no. He has not redeemed himself one bit. I’m out" 35.0% "Ok seriously what the actual fuck. he ignores her, insults her, leads her on, kisses her, throws her out, and then is straight up mean to her. she literally did nothing wrong. and now he's jealous that another guy may be interested in her? This hero is the epitome of what i DON"T look for in a man. Zero communication. A fucking idiot. at this point im skimming" 37.0% "WTF AGAIN???!!!! HE LITERALLY SLEEPS AROUND AND HE'S JEALOUS SHE'S TALKING TO ANOTHER GUY? AND THINKS HE CAN DICTATE WHAT SHES WEARING?? WHAT THE FUCK WAS THIS AUTHOR ON WHEN SHE WROTE THIS BOOK" 38.0% "I FUCKING HATE HIM WAEHRFQEWBAWKJEDFWEIBEW" 40.0% "WOOOWWW OKAY SO HIS BULLSHIT PTSD JUST MAKES UP FOR EVERY AWFUL THING HE'S DONE TO HER?? NO SYMPATHY FROM ME MOTHERFUCKER"

  4. 4 out of 5

    Preeti ♥︎ Her Bookshelves

    3 okay stars for me. Nice, sweet and happily fresh at places. Generic, okayish and anachronistic at other places. The much used, abused trope of a H chaffing at being engaged when young through an arranged match by parents and then by rebelling in all ways that young men do - first by recklessly joining the military and then by drinking, carousing and whoring around when he gets back. And ignores his fiancee completely in the three years he's back and that when they both seem to majorly reside in 3 okay stars for me. Nice, sweet and happily fresh at places. Generic, okayish and anachronistic at other places. The much used, abused trope of a H chaffing at being engaged when young through an arranged match by parents and then by rebelling in all ways that young men do - first by recklessly joining the military and then by drinking, carousing and whoring around when he gets back. And ignores his fiancee completely in the three years he's back and that when they both seem to majorly reside in London. How he manages that and how he's allowed to do that is a mystery. Quite an ungentlemanly conduct. So, they meet as the book opens and suddenly he's smitten?! (Of course, the h's a convenient 2o to his 28 now.) The plain Jane wallflower turns into an enchantress/seductress. *eyeroll* An now we get a 'solid' excuse for his previous callous disregard - PTSD. A sensitive topic, that is very commonly and casually bandied about for a guy's assh*le behavior in the romance genre. I found the h's all out pursuit of her reluctant betrothed to be somewhat charming although brow-raising. Especially when she calmly interacts with his present and probable mistresses. That is a big no-no in ways of anachronism alerts. But she manages to evoke credible angst as well. So the book shows flashes of agreeable angst and bright spots before fading into mediocrity.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Zoe

    Sometimes I wonder, am I from Mars? Why? Because sometimes when I am reading, I wonder, who are these people who talk like this? Drake in this book, despite being tormented, said things that just didn't fit into his characterization. The attempt to paint him as a tortured hero is not a complete failure but his "realization" that Emmaline is so very important to him and what he said just sounds like a teenage girl's fantasy. I find it really interesting though, how the story managed to be interes Sometimes I wonder, am I from Mars? Why? Because sometimes when I am reading, I wonder, who are these people who talk like this? Drake in this book, despite being tormented, said things that just didn't fit into his characterization. The attempt to paint him as a tortured hero is not a complete failure but his "realization" that Emmaline is so very important to him and what he said just sounds like a teenage girl's fantasy. I find it really interesting though, how the story managed to be interesting enough for me to want to give it a 3 stars. The writing is not impressive, plots are disconnected, characterization is poor, but Ms. Caldwell really had a good premise. The veteran post trauma theme is very touching. I wish it was examined more in depth. The problem with chracterization: for Drake the problem was that it just did not fit. I could almost buy it if he had double personalities and I could also buy it if that was attributed to his PTSD. But somehow he just went around saying things. Some sound like him and some just sound like they came from a besotted 16-year-old boy. With Emmaline the problem is bigger. I cannot picture her. Is she pretty or not? Is she a wallflower or not? Sometimes she sounds childish, sometimes she sounds smart, sometimes she sounds spoiled, sometimes she sounds dumb. The characters of Emmaline and Drake are inconsistent. The writer says they are one thing but what they say make them someone else. It was rather frustrating for me. If he is a rake, make him talk like one, not a besotted teenager. I am no writer and for the life of me can never write a book. So I feel awfully out of place to criticize one's writing. I have the utmost respect for writers like Ms. Caldwell. That being said, this really wasn't a great love story. Too shallow in its characterization and depiction of love, emotions and anguish. And Emmaline being a ninny going after Drake is just pathetic...............

  6. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Kay

    ★★★★½ (This is a review of the audiobook.) Loved the narrator, Tim Campbell. Definitely will listen to him again. Loved the hero & heroine, too. Nothing new here, but it is all so well done. Took my time with it by just listening in the car, but found myself looking forward to hearing the next installment; finally, started listening to it while I cooked. Fun and sweet.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Sammy

    PTSD is a serious condition and I am empathetic towards the hero's suffering. However, it does not excuse his shameful behavior towards the heroine. There is nothing honorable about his attitudes or actions. She was humiliated over and over again by him yet she continued to be optimistic. Her nature is to forgive and she does so very easily but the sickening fact is that he never apologizes for the hurt he causes her. Readers who want to know if he cheated during their lengthily betrothal: he mo PTSD is a serious condition and I am empathetic towards the hero's suffering. However, it does not excuse his shameful behavior towards the heroine. There is nothing honorable about his attitudes or actions. She was humiliated over and over again by him yet she continued to be optimistic. Her nature is to forgive and she does so very easily but the sickening fact is that he never apologizes for the hurt he causes her. Readers who want to know if he cheated during their lengthily betrothal: he most definitely did. This is not one of those romances where the hero adores his heroine.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Gilgamesha

    She was the second historical romance writer whose books I read after Delle Jacob.....there is two reasons this book worked for me.....Emmalines' letters and Drakes PTSD....I am a sucker for stories with love letters....and since I was raised in a war torn country I understand PTSD only too well....I remember when I was a little girl stuck in a bomb shelter I would imagine different scenarios in my mind...of someone who is searching for me...writing letters to me....someone who would rescue me f She was the second historical romance writer whose books I read after Delle Jacob.....there is two reasons this book worked for me.....Emmalines' letters and Drakes PTSD....I am a sucker for stories with love letters....and since I was raised in a war torn country I understand PTSD only too well....I remember when I was a little girl stuck in a bomb shelter I would imagine different scenarios in my mind...of someone who is searching for me...writing letters to me....someone who would rescue me from this hell.....although I rescued myself (proudly) those memories have stayed with me and this book really resonanted with me because of that....I think I was too involved in my reminiscence to think of all the technicalities such as plot and character development!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Inn Auni

    Note: I composed an awesome review if I said so myself. Only you guys would never know because it got lost in GR's Lost and Found section. But, I don't think it can be found again. Just to point how lazy I am to type another awesome review, I'll just gave you guys the rundown of it in bullets:- * The first half was awesome * The second half was okay I guess. (At this point Emmaline was annoying and Drake was a simpering young lady) * I was hoping for Sebastian's story next only to find out that his Note: I composed an awesome review if I said so myself. Only you guys would never know because it got lost in GR's Lost and Found section. But, I don't think it can be found again. Just to point how lazy I am to type another awesome review, I'll just gave you guys the rundown of it in bullets:- * The first half was awesome * The second half was okay I guess. (At this point Emmaline was annoying and Drake was a simpering young lady) * I was hoping for Sebastian's story next only to find out that his would be the last book in the series and to be partner with the one I don't wish him to be partner to.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Sawyer Belle

    3.5! There were so many beautiful things about this story that I wanted to rate it higher, but the snags I found just got to be too much to where they distracted me from the story. Lord Drake went to war to escape a betrothal contract put in place when he was a child. When he returned from fighting Napolean's forces, he came back with a severe case of PTSD. Believing himself unworthy of a woman's love and also unwilling to put her in harm's way by marrying her (he thinks he'll have dangerous fla 3.5! There were so many beautiful things about this story that I wanted to rate it higher, but the snags I found just got to be too much to where they distracted me from the story. Lord Drake went to war to escape a betrothal contract put in place when he was a child. When he returned from fighting Napolean's forces, he came back with a severe case of PTSD. Believing himself unworthy of a woman's love and also unwilling to put her in harm's way by marrying her (he thinks he'll have dangerous flashbacks and potentially hurt her), he avoids his betrothed at all costs for three years, until she forces her way into his life. Lady Emmaline has been the source of ridicule all of her adult life, known for being constantly jilted by her betrothed, who has made it obvious to the Ton that he wants nothing to do with her. Well, she's tired of living life on the sidelines. She pursues him, throwing herself into his path at every opportunity. Obviously, this is a romance, so there is an HEA. Here's what I didn't like about it: 1) In the beginning Lady Emmaline came off as a bit immature and juvenile: scheming to chase after a man who obviously didn't want her. I actually pitied her in some cases and I wanted to shake her and shout "Have some self respect! Stop throwing yourself at him and embarrassing yourself." 2) Drake had his good moments and his bad moments. While he was avoiding Emmaline, he treated her like dirt, belittling her and insulting her. Of course, we readers know that he secretly fancied her and was just fighting it because he didn't feel worthy, but that still doesn't excuse all of his behavior in my opinion, and his treating her so poorly made her look all the more pathetic for continuing to chase him. 3) It made no sense why her family (or his, for that matter), didn't dissolve the betrothal contract sooner. I mean, he was back from the war, gambing, whoring and ridiculing his fiancé for THREE YEARS before they ever even saw each other. How come the family was okay with that and holding them both to the contract until they actually finally started seeing each other? THEN, they were all prepared to end the betrothal. Just didn't make sense. There were other inconsistencies that went along with this (ie. the brother's behavior/actions, Drake's father, etc.) It just took away some of the drama for me, knowing that this whole thing could have been resolved earlier and better, and the prolonging of the dissolution of the contract was just used as a tool by the author. Okay - what I liked about the story: 1) The portrayal of the PTSD. I have a sibling who suffers from PTSD and I think the author handled it very well. She really made me feel for Drake and his struggle with the disease, and it was the only thing that redeemed him and his deplorable behavior, in my book. 2) When Emmaline and Drake finally came together and were in love, Em's handling of the PTSD situation was very respectful and tender. It made me love their story. 3) I loved that the author took us into their marriage and their struggles with the PTSD. I would have hated it had she made them end up together and that all-powerful love just erased his PTSD. I would have hated it because that is unrealistic. Instead, she went into a very realistic portrayal of how PTSD affects a person and a marriage. The last half of the book made up for the first half. If she'd ended the story after they got together, I would have rated this a 1.5-2 stars.

  11. 4 out of 5

    R.C. Matthews

    I absolutely adore Emmaline. It is a rare book, indeed, when I love the heroine even more than I love the hero. But so is the case with Forever Betrothed, Never the Bride. This story grabbed me from page one and kept me turning page after page. Emmaline and Lord Drake have been betrothed since the tender ages of 5 and 13, respectively. As a future Duke, Lord Drake's father has always taken the power to chose firmly out of Drake's hands. His choice of bride. His choice of college. In a reckless m I absolutely adore Emmaline. It is a rare book, indeed, when I love the heroine even more than I love the hero. But so is the case with Forever Betrothed, Never the Bride. This story grabbed me from page one and kept me turning page after page. Emmaline and Lord Drake have been betrothed since the tender ages of 5 and 13, respectively. As a future Duke, Lord Drake's father has always taken the power to chose firmly out of Drake's hands. His choice of bride. His choice of college. In a reckless moment of rebellion, Drake enlists in the army and fights many years in the war only to return a broken and tortured soul. His battle with PTSD is heart-breaking. I loved how the author began every chapter with a brief note written by Emmaline to Lord Drake - notes written over the years as Emmaline longed to get to know her betrothed - notes she never dared actually send. Emmaline's character is sweet yet sassy, beautiful in spirit though not praised for her physical beauty and above all determined to finally get her betrothed to claim her. What ensues is a wonderful love story. One that made my heart ache horribly for both the H/h and brought tears to my eyes. But have no fear, these two eventually get their HEA though the path getting there was rough. This is a story that I will definitely pick up in the future to enjoy again.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Celestine

    I very, very rarely just link to another review (I think I've only done it one other time), but this reviewer basically said everything I thought was fortunate and unfortunate about this book, especially the deficiencies of the hero and heroine and the accurate and sensitive portrayal of PTSD (albeit from the Napoleonic War). Why reinvent the wheel? Here is her review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show... I very, very rarely just link to another review (I think I've only done it one other time), but this reviewer basically said everything I thought was fortunate and unfortunate about this book, especially the deficiencies of the hero and heroine and the accurate and sensitive portrayal of PTSD (albeit from the Napoleonic War). Why reinvent the wheel? Here is her review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

  13. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    I've never read anything by this author, but happened upon the book by chance at B&N.com. The plot line seemed like something I would enjoy so I gave it a shot. I was really impressed by just how much I fell in love with this tale. The characters were were very well constructed and written. There was plenty of angst, witty dialogue, drama, romance and wondering when the hell these two were going to get their HEA. I found myself unable to put the book down. I will say that I hope this author inte I've never read anything by this author, but happened upon the book by chance at B&N.com. The plot line seemed like something I would enjoy so I gave it a shot. I was really impressed by just how much I fell in love with this tale. The characters were were very well constructed and written. There was plenty of angst, witty dialogue, drama, romance and wondering when the hell these two were going to get their HEA. I found myself unable to put the book down. I will say that I hope this author intends to continue the series and write tales for both the heroine's brother and the hero's best friend. I found myself loving both of their characters, as well.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Caz

    I've given this a C- for narration and C+ for content at AudioGals. The first book in Christi Caldwell’s Scandalous Seasons series, Forever Betrothed, Never the Bride has an intriguing premise and an engaging heroine, but while I did enjoy the story, there are a number of faults in the execution which made it impossible for me to rate it more highly. The same is true of the narration by Tim Campbell who is, apart from one rather large flaw, a very accomplished narrator and vocal actor. You ca I've given this a C- for narration and C+ for content at AudioGals. The first book in Christi Caldwell’s Scandalous Seasons series, Forever Betrothed, Never the Bride has an intriguing premise and an engaging heroine, but while I did enjoy the story, there are a number of faults in the execution which made it impossible for me to rate it more highly. The same is true of the narration by Tim Campbell who is, apart from one rather large flaw, a very accomplished narrator and vocal actor. You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals.

  15. 5 out of 5

    AnnMarie

    Forever Betrothed, Never the Bride by Christi Caldwell is the first book in the Scandalous Seasons series. This is the story of Lord Drake and Lady Emmaline Fitzhugh. They were betrothed by their parents when they were both young children with Emmaline being younger than him at just 5 years old. As they grew up Drake grew very resentful of his forced betrothal and in his desperation to prove his independence he joined the army and went to fight in the Napoleonic war. He came back a very changed m Forever Betrothed, Never the Bride by Christi Caldwell is the first book in the Scandalous Seasons series. This is the story of Lord Drake and Lady Emmaline Fitzhugh. They were betrothed by their parents when they were both young children with Emmaline being younger than him at just 5 years old. As they grew up Drake grew very resentful of his forced betrothal and in his desperation to prove his independence he joined the army and went to fight in the Napoleonic war. He came back a very changed man. The things he had to do, the things he witnessed have scarred him both physically and mentally for life. Loud sounds find him cowering, making him believe he is still on the battlefield. He also has the most horrific nightmares. He truly believes he is going mad. It's because of that, that he decides he could never be a good husband, to Emmaline, or any woman. He sets his sights no higher than bedding many women, gambling, and drinking, with the hope that keeping busy like that will stop his nightmares of war. In the time that Drake was away and consequently returned to his new way of life, Emmaline decides enough is enough. She has been made to be a wallflower over the years because everybody knows she is betrothed and therefore can't ask her to dance or to court her. While she believed that Drake would come back from the war and start to court her properly, leading to a proper proposal, she happily waited for him. When she realises that he seems to have no intention of doing that any time soon she decides enough is enough. So when his friend Sinclair, comes to her with a list of events that Drake will be attending, she agrees to his plan to put herself everywhere that Drake is in order to win at least his attentions and hopefully his heart. Will Emmaline be able to see past the facade that Drake is hiding behind? Dare he open his heart to her. He can't marry her, not and keep her safe from the violent man he becomes during his episodes and at night when he has his nightmares. While he doesn't know Emmaline well, it's easy to stick to his guns, but the more he sees her, the more he finds himself falling for her. He still keeps pushing her away, what happens if he pushes her too far? A woman has her pride too. This was a really lovely story with many light-hearted moments throughout. There are some very emotional moments too, especially involving Drake and the pain he suffers because of his time at war. There is a particular story involving a dog that befriended him during his time fighting, and I have to admit it had me reaching for the tissues. Don't worry, the happy moments in the book more than make up for the sadder ones, and this story will leave you smiling. I read this book as part of a complimentary copy of The Hero Least Likely anthology, in exchange for my honest review.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Philippa Lodge

    I'm having a hard time assigning a number of stars to this book. On the one hand, the plot is good. (They've been betrothed since they were kids. The boy resented it so much he joined the army, where he got messed up mentally and physically in the Napoleonic Wars. When he gets back, he's such a mess and still resentful, that he never bothers to get around to visiting his betrothed, much less carrying through the wedding. Except when they start to get to know each other, they start falling in love I'm having a hard time assigning a number of stars to this book. On the one hand, the plot is good. (They've been betrothed since they were kids. The boy resented it so much he joined the army, where he got messed up mentally and physically in the Napoleonic Wars. When he gets back, he's such a mess and still resentful, that he never bothers to get around to visiting his betrothed, much less carrying through the wedding. Except when they start to get to know each other, they start falling in love.) The characters are good. (He's sullen, even after years and years, then he's worried that his PTSD will hurt her and he thinks he's crazy. She's gone from little girl fascinated by this prince of a man, to an unrealistic young lady, to finally understanding him.) And yet.... Well, the book could have ended halfway through, but the author thought it wasn't long enough, so tossed in the same old roadblocks, but higher this time. I felt that the hero was awfully immature for an awful long time. It's not like his was the only arranged marriage ever. He wasn't stuck with a total dud (Made me think of Eloisa Jame's The Duke is Mine.) Worst of all... The author uses some old-fashioned and big words to give the flavor of the Regency period.... and uses some of them wrong. MAKES ME CRAZY. For example, "Erstwhile" means former, not... assiduous or ardent or whatever she tried to make it mean. So 4 for characters, 4 for plot, and 2 because I was irritated. Maybe 3.5? The 4s outweigh the 2... Oh heck.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Vania Nunes

    This was a book that caught my attention for the title. It is my first contact with the author and I confess that I enjoyed. The story seems long because the plot doesn't have a depth of kind bring some great mystery, as a murder or a robbery to be revealed. The plot focuses on the couple and their struggle in winning a question imposed by their parents, and the participants, Emmaline and Drake, had different views on how to proceed with the original plan. Emmaline is rich, daughter and now Duke's This was a book that caught my attention for the title. It is my first contact with the author and I confess that I enjoyed. The story seems long because the plot doesn't have a depth of kind bring some great mystery, as a murder or a robbery to be revealed. The plot focuses on the couple and their struggle in winning a question imposed by their parents, and the participants, Emmaline and Drake, had different views on how to proceed with the original plan. Emmaline is rich, daughter and now Duke's sister, well educated, but has no beauty in fashion among the debutantes of her time. But she had a brain and a great stubbornness and this helped devise the plan to win her prince charming who appeared to her when she was 5 years old. Drake yes had beauty, a duke of title by knocking on his door, wealth, respect as a war hero, but he was far from perfect. He was a womanizer who deliberately put his fiancee a mockery position in society when everyone knew he walked around taking lovers as she was placed at wallflower position. While this leave us, readers, angry, this was the behavior of the time; sexist. And like any fairy tale, Emmaline became to Drake the best balm for his internal scars. She didn't heal him, far from it. Internal war scars that he would take until his death, but they would have a life to realize that they were the right choice for each other. Beautiful story. 5 STARS !!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Seffra

    3 stars The plot of this book really intrigued me so I began right away. Well, what can I say? Drake was a man who avoided marriage like the plague...he even joined the army to get away from Emmaline who was the ultimate do gooder, who could do no wrong. They were endearing but at times I was rolling my eyes with how quick they fixed their many, many problems. I also was mind-boggled when Drake appeared whenever she needed saving...like where did he come from!!?!?!?!? I would have enjoyed this bo 3 stars The plot of this book really intrigued me so I began right away. Well, what can I say? Drake was a man who avoided marriage like the plague...he even joined the army to get away from Emmaline who was the ultimate do gooder, who could do no wrong. They were endearing but at times I was rolling my eyes with how quick they fixed their many, many problems. I also was mind-boggled when Drake appeared whenever she needed saving...like where did he come from!!?!?!?!? I would have enjoyed this book a lot more if the author edited a bit more. A lot of the words were unnecessarily repeated in such close proximity. This book also reminded me of Love in the Afternoon by Lisa Kleypas with the whole letter thing ( except Emmaline never sent them) but also with the Army thing and the guy coming back scarred beyond repair. I might continue on in the series because I would like to know what happens to her friend Sophie and her brother!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Vikki Vaught

    This is the first book I have read by Ms. Caldwell, and I truly loved it and can't wait to read more of her books. Great character, great pacing, and a great plot. I highly recommend this book to all historical romance readers. Happy reading! This is the first book I have read by Ms. Caldwell, and I truly loved it and can't wait to read more of her books. Great character, great pacing, and a great plot. I highly recommend this book to all historical romance readers. Happy reading!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Maggie Whitworth

    Excellent

  21. 5 out of 5

    Trish R.

    This was a really good story. Loved Emmaline and Drake. He loved her so much he was willing to let her go and she loved him so much she wouldn’t give up on him and his nightmares from the war. It had some good characters, too. There was some explicit sex in this book. As to the narration: After listening to the many voices Tim Campbell does on his website he’s even more talented than I’d ever thought. For all of you who like TC you should go listen to him. He’s really quite phenomenal. http://www This was a really good story. Loved Emmaline and Drake. He loved her so much he was willing to let her go and she loved him so much she wouldn’t give up on him and his nightmares from the war. It had some good characters, too. There was some explicit sex in this book. As to the narration: After listening to the many voices Tim Campbell does on his website he’s even more talented than I’d ever thought. For all of you who like TC you should go listen to him. He’s really quite phenomenal. http://www.timcampbell.me/accents

  22. 5 out of 5

    Tracy T.

    Very good book and narration by Tim Campbell (audible review) I really enjoyed this story very much. I really liked Emmaline a lot. She was pretty, funny, witty, smart, strong and just a great heroine. I love strong female characters. Drake was awesome, handsome, and strong as well. Together they had great chemistry together. There were a couple of nicely written sex scenes, not graphic just very nicely written. The story line and plot was great. I loved her "notes" to Drake at the beginning of ea Very good book and narration by Tim Campbell (audible review) I really enjoyed this story very much. I really liked Emmaline a lot. She was pretty, funny, witty, smart, strong and just a great heroine. I love strong female characters. Drake was awesome, handsome, and strong as well. Together they had great chemistry together. There were a couple of nicely written sex scenes, not graphic just very nicely written. The story line and plot was great. I loved her "notes" to Drake at the beginning of each chapter. It made her so likable and you really got to know her character. He had some PTSD going on from the war causing nightmares, but it wasn't too extreme. He didn't constantly have pity parties like in some PTSD situations. So that was good. There was so much great dialogue throughout the entire book. The story flowed very well and it was entertaining and engaging. As for the narration. I like Tim Campbell he is a good narrator. The women sound like women and he does give everyone their own distinct voice. His reading voice is nice and he reads with emotion.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Debbie "Buried in Her TBR Pile"

    I usually have a problem with modern character behavior/dialogue in a historical romance. This one was done well but a young lady during the regency era would not have been so bold in language with her brother (a Duke) or her betrothed, etc. Of course, her intervention in the mistreatment of others and weekly work at a hospital for wounded soldiers has been done quite a bit (a classic heroine character trait in many books by Dame Barbara Cartland years ago.) I did appreciate that Emmaline wanted I usually have a problem with modern character behavior/dialogue in a historical romance. This one was done well but a young lady during the regency era would not have been so bold in language with her brother (a Duke) or her betrothed, etc. Of course, her intervention in the mistreatment of others and weekly work at a hospital for wounded soldiers has been done quite a bit (a classic heroine character trait in many books by Dame Barbara Cartland years ago.) I did appreciate that Emmaline wanted to be a dutiful daughter and uphold a long-standing betrothal contracted by her deceased father and a neighboring Duke. I thought the feelings and characterization of a young girl/woman having lived in the limbo of the situation was very well done, especially with the neglect and attitude of her intended. Emmaline decides to make her play or try to end the contract. "Do you believe this is the life I want for myself? Do you believe I'd rather know this formal aloofness, than...?" love or passion? I appreciated Drake's feelings and his consternation over Emmaline considering his feelings of guilt and inadequacy after the war and good case of PTSD. "I have known since I was a boy the obligations and responsibilities that belong to me as the heir to a dukedom. I do not believe the world revolves around me. I'm relatively powerless in this well-ordered world." "Have you ever considered...others...might feel the same." Emmaline's brother (the current Duke) is a good character and showed feelings of concern and love for his sister. The story is entertaining, heartfelt and sweet. 3.5 rounded stars

  24. 4 out of 5

    Elodie

    It is was such a delightful read, I laughed, smiled but also cried and hurt with Drake and Emmaline. Their story was so overwhelming, two children destined by their fathers to be the future of their families struggling to overcome what was expected from them, each differently. Emmaline spent her whole life waiting for her betrothed to come to her, but never he took a step towards her, instead he avoided her like the plague. In her dreams, she made him her perfect prince, until she had enough to wa It is was such a delightful read, I laughed, smiled but also cried and hurt with Drake and Emmaline. Their story was so overwhelming, two children destined by their fathers to be the future of their families struggling to overcome what was expected from them, each differently. Emmaline spent her whole life waiting for her betrothed to come to her, but never he took a step towards her, instead he avoided her like the plague. In her dreams, she made him her perfect prince, until she had enough to wait for her knight in shining armor who never comes, and decides it is time he get to know her. Drake is stunned to discover his fiancée is no more a mere child of five, instead a young woman who does not cowed when it means defending the weakest. She fascinates him but he also resent her for robing him of his own choice. And soon she chalenges him and threatens his sanity. He is attracted to her but refuse to accept it. At sometime of their reacquaintance, he was so hurtful and rude I would have slapped him on the head. The only wrong-doing by Emmaline is to have been born a duke’s daughter, condemned to become his bride. Not once he took in consideration the child she was nor the woman she became, so focused he was to avoid his traced life, he never spared a thought for her and her own aspirations. Sure, he came back from war a broken man, suffering PTSD, pursuing all kind of sins trying to erase his guilt and his nightmares. He was lucky Emmaline fell in love with the prince of her dreams, instead of the edgy and tetchy man he can be or he may never had had a second chance. A great read showing the importance of family’s love but also to see past preconceived ideas.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Amy ~ Love At 1st Read

    My first Christi Caldwell book. I'd heard from a reliable source that her books are awesome. I'm glad I tried one. I will definitely be reading more. Charming characters and witty dialogue. My first Christi Caldwell book. I'd heard from a reliable source that her books are awesome. I'm glad I tried one. I will definitely be reading more. Charming characters and witty dialogue.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Soo

    Mini-Review: 4 Stars for Narration by Tim Campbell 2.5 Stars for Story A simple story. It's a sweet tale but bland. Nothing about the characters or plot really stand out in a memorable manner. The exchanges between Em and her brother are more engaging than the ones between the Drake & Em. The sex scenes are unoriginal & boring. I wanted more depth to the characters than the feeble sex scenes that creep into the story towards the end. Upside: Tim Campbell was good! He made the story more appealing t Mini-Review: 4 Stars for Narration by Tim Campbell 2.5 Stars for Story A simple story. It's a sweet tale but bland. Nothing about the characters or plot really stand out in a memorable manner. The exchanges between Em and her brother are more engaging than the ones between the Drake & Em. The sex scenes are unoriginal & boring. I wanted more depth to the characters than the feeble sex scenes that creep into the story towards the end. Upside: Tim Campbell was good! He made the story more appealing than it was.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Natalie Brooks

    3.5 stars, rounded up. Lots of tears. Strong heroine, though I’m not sure I’d ever swallow my pride as much as she did. Tortured hero, after fighting in a war. The star of this book, to me, was her brother Sebastian. I see that when I read the second book in the series, I found Sebastian captivating in that one, too. Unfortunately, when I then skipped to Sebastian’s book (6), I didn’t like it much. Alas, I lived the brother sister relationship in this book, and how she treated him 100% like a brot 3.5 stars, rounded up. Lots of tears. Strong heroine, though I’m not sure I’d ever swallow my pride as much as she did. Tortured hero, after fighting in a war. The star of this book, to me, was her brother Sebastian. I see that when I read the second book in the series, I found Sebastian captivating in that one, too. Unfortunately, when I then skipped to Sebastian’s book (6), I didn’t like it much. Alas, I lived the brother sister relationship in this book, and how she treated him 100% like a brother and not like a duke. This book seemed to suggest a match between Sophie and Sebastian, though that’s not what happens in the rest of the series.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Malissa

    3.5 Stars. I have some mixed feelings about this one. While I ultimately liked the hero I disliked him for such a large portion of the book that it made my later ‘like’ of him as tarnished as he was as a hero. I really enjoyed the heroine, but felt her personal growth was glossed over. I loved her sassiness, her dedication, her patience, but I had hoped to get more from the idea that she lured the Marquess in with a change from wallflower to ‘flirt’. Overall it’s an enjoyable read with a lot of 3.5 Stars. I have some mixed feelings about this one. While I ultimately liked the hero I disliked him for such a large portion of the book that it made my later ‘like’ of him as tarnished as he was as a hero. I really enjoyed the heroine, but felt her personal growth was glossed over. I loved her sassiness, her dedication, her patience, but I had hoped to get more from the idea that she lured the Marquess in with a change from wallflower to ‘flirt’. Overall it’s an enjoyable read with a lot of heart, it just wasn’t a total win for me. On to the next!!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jess

    DNF, I had to stop reading after two chapters. The whole thing just didn't work for me. And of course, this was something I picked up on sale without reading the sample. When whill I ever learn? DNF, I had to stop reading after two chapters. The whole thing just didn't work for me. And of course, this was something I picked up on sale without reading the sample. When whill I ever learn?

  30. 4 out of 5

    Book Addict

    What was this? How is this guy a hero in a romance novel? This book just made me angry and irritated.

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