Lidian Acland believes herself in love with the roguish Chance Spencer who left to go on a tour of the continent a year ago. He led her to believe that he loved her too and would be coming back to claim her, but she hasn't really heard from him since. Even still, Lidian stubbornly clings to the hope that he will return for her even though her mother tries her best to dissuade her.
After his family reclaims titles and land that had been taken from them decades ago, Lord Eric de Gray is suddenly one of the most sought after bachelors of the ton. He is tired of all the fortune-hunting débutantes following him around and wants a woman who doesn't care about money and prestige. When Lidian treats his sister kindly, Eric finds himself attracted to her, but she seems to want nothing to do with him, claiming that her heart belongs to another. Eric views her as a challenge and pursues her relentlessly, but can he ever hope to earn her love especially after Chance finally returns?
For a Lisa Kleypas novella, I found Promises to be a rather lackluster read. There just wasn't a lot to it plot-wise, so I had a hard time becoming invested in the outcome for the characters. In addition, the characters themselves were uncharacteristically weak, so I had an equally difficult time relating to them. The story was somewhat on the melodramatic side too.
I admired Lidian on some level for standing by her mom and helping to run their estate after her father died of a heart condition, but ultimately, she seemed rather naïve. Eric was very much an alpha male who reminded me of the bodice-ripper heroes of old, the way he essentially forced kisses on Lidian at first and declared that he would make her forget her other love. I've just never been much of a fan of heroes who behave this way, but of course, Lidian slowly begins to eat it up. I did enjoy their visit to Vauxhall, but overall, I just didn't feel enough of a connection between Lidian and Eric to buy into their blossoming love. There was a secondary romance between Lidian's mother and Eric's uncle, but there wasn't enough development to that relationship to suit me either. The "villain" lacked any real bite. His reason for kidnapping Lidian was kind of silly, and he was dispatched with little fanfare.
I detected some passivity in the narration which is quite unusual for Lisa Kleypas. Even the one love scene was very mild and the sexual tension throughout was minimal, definitely not up to her typical standard of steaminess. Promises was written somewhat early in her career, so perhaps she hadn't fully developed her trademark style yet. I would call it a worthwhile read for Kleypas fans, but in my opinion, definitely not one of her best efforts. Promises is sometimes listed as part of the Gamblers series because of a brief appearance by Derek Craven and Eric visiting Craven's gambling hell, but from everything I can tell, this novella has no real bearing on the series and can easily be read as a stand-alone story. Promises can be found in the anthology Three Weddings and a Kiss.
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