A historical romance, brought to my attention by Courtney Milan, with some really hot scenes. So why the low rating?
Both H/H were unlikable, selfish brats. Lady Miranda, a spoiled socialite exiled to the country for taking a dark walk with an unmarried man, was really unrealistic in her mood swings, going from strong temptress to pouting child in a breath. To prove she really is bad to the bone, she makes out with a sexy highwayman in front of her puritanical cousins. The highway man is altruistic Fox, disguised to steal the cousins' money because they're annoying. Oh yes, in a novel about overcoming class differences, Fox robs not one, not two, but THREE people in his Robin Hood-lite quest to keep his orphanage going. Because they have so much and they're not donating in a way he deems suitable. Bra. Vo. (Even though one of the men he robs is basically innocent and caught in an extortion web. And Fox faces no repercussions. And when Miranda finds out, she's just like, "eh. So you lied and stole my money. I still want your body.")
Speaking of Fox, his entire character is that he loves his orphans. So when Miranda suggests holding a fundraiser to fix the roof, he throws a complete fit and storms out. Why? Because his precious Miranda, (they're not together yet,) will be hosting with Fox's MORTAL ENEMY! (The guy caught in the extortion scheme.) Oh yes, there's the magnanimous and loving father figure we've come to know and hate. Much better to try to force yourself on a wealthy heiress. And yes, that's precisely what Fox tries to do. As much as he likes Miranda, he spends 3/4 of the book thinking of "compromising" her to force her into marriage, and after he does, spends the rest of the book pouting that he doesn't want her to marry him just because he did. Shut the fuck up you rapey asshole.
The whole second half of the book was overlong and unnecessary. After the ball and consummation of their love, I was more interested in the questions raised by Miranda's father than whether or not the brats would be able to get married. Why doesn't Fox have any money? His father gambled, OK. This year's crop was bad. Got it. What about last year's crop? The money from the sheep? Where are the taxes from the tenants? Miranda has a smaller estate that brings in $5,000 a year. It does sound like Fox CAN'T properly run a household, but we're supposed to think the Duke is a big meany head for pointing that out.
Speaking of, Miranda's parents are mustache-twirling villains. Flat, cardboard, and serving no purpose but to drive H/H apart. Oh wait, that also describes the cousins and the actual villain, who might as well be the Sheriff of Nottingham. He steals tapestries from orphans. Gleefully.
At the end, Miranda rebuffs Fox because he didn't ask for her hand nicely enough and her parents hate him. They have sex anyway, and Fox rebuffs her right back. She goes back to the cousins' house and realizes her family hates her too. She tries to tell them she's changed her mind, but they just evilly twirl their mustaches. Some cackling may have been involved. Miranda runs back into Fox's arms, and he forgives her, and they get their HEA. And so do I, because the book is over.