Edward Addison has just inherited his title of Marquess of Rythorpe from his profligate brother. He's plagued with an estate that is literally falling down around his ears, and now his take-charge grandmama is about to invade his home, expecting a big celebration for her seventy-fifth birthday. It all make him want to hightail it back to the battlefield in France. Then he finds out the only woman he's ever loved will be accompanying his grandmother, and she wants to make him an offer. Edward thinks she's going to propose marriage, and a part of him can't wait to throw it back in her face like she did to him eight years ago.
Sophie St. John turned down Edward's proposal all those years ago, because it appeared to be made out of nothing more than a sense of duty, when what she wanted from him was a declaration of love. She's never been able to forget him, but has tried to avoid him, which hasn't been difficult with him being away fighting in the war. Now she is one of the proud owners of her family's horse-racing dynasty. Sophie and her brother desperately want the champion horse Edward's brother flippantly brought shortly before his death, and the only way to get it is for her to see Edward again. Being in such close proximity to him is wreaking havoc on her emotions, and Edward is sending her all sorts of mixed signals. One minute he seems angry with her, the next, he's kissing her senseless. But if their matchmaking grandmother has her way, Sophie and Edward will be back together for good before the birthday celebration is over.
Much Ado about Twelfth Night is a delightful reunion romance from one of my favorite authors, Liz Carlyle. As usual, she didn't disappoint. Because of the title, I thought this novella was about the celebration of Twelfth Night, but the Twelfth Night in question ended up being a champion racehorse that pretty much everyone in the story, except the hero, wanted. This made for a fun comedy-of-errors storyline, as the hero overhears a conversation between the heroine and her brother about the horse, and thinks they're talking about him. That part really made me giggle.:-)
Edward is a classic introvert who prefers to be alone, so when a gaggle of family and friends descends upon his newly inherited, but falling-down estate, he wishes he could go back to the continent, fighting Old Boney. It was positively endearing how Edward could command his troops with absolute precision, but he was tongue-tied around women, or perhaps one woman in particular. He just couldn't seem to make his mouth say the right words, which sometimes led to him babbling, but in the heat of love-making, he could be very sweetly seductive. On the outside though, Edward is the picture of the perfect soldier, stoic, coolly composed, and a bit brooding. It's funny that everyone around him sees that he's still in love with Sophie, but he doesn't initially recognize it. Edward is the responsible one in the family, always looking out for everyone else. It broke my heart that Sophie unintentionally broke his heart. It's easy to see through Edward's cool facade that he's hurt. He really thinks she doesn't care about him in a romantic way and never will.
In reality, Sophie has loved Edward since she was a teenager. He actually proposed to her when she was seventeen, but she turned him down flat, because she wanted his love and thought he was only doing it out of a sense of duty and pity. Little did she know that, by doing so, she completely shattered his heart. After Edward joined the army and went to France, Sophie never married. She and her younger brother were orphaned a couple of years before Edward proposed. During the last eight years, she poured all her time and effort into running the family estate and never really put herself on the market, mainly because she never wanted anyone but Edward. The family also owns a very lucrative horse-racing business, and now Edward is in possession of a prime racehorse that Sophie and her brother desperately want for their stables. This leaves her with no choice but to see Edward again if she wants to buy the horse, but when Edward mistakenly believes that she's coming back to persuade him to marry her after all, it leads to some amusing misunderstandings. Sophie was a sweet young woman with a bubbly personality, who cares very much about others. The thing I liked most about her is that she sees how much responsibility Edward takes on, and worries about there being no one to watch out for his well-being. Of course, she would love to be that person, but doesn't think he loves her in that way.
Much Ado about Twelfth Night was a funny, sweet, and endearing story. The only reason I chose to knock off half a star was that Edward and Sophie were both pretty stubborn and had some difficulty communicating effectively. If not for their matchmaking elderly grandmother, I'm not sure they ever would have gotten back together, but alls well that ends well. Overall, I had a really good time reading this novella. It was another winner for me from Ms. Carlyle. Much Ado about Twelfth Night can be found in the anthology The One That Got Away.
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