Bedding Lord Ned by Sally MacKenzie
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
3.5 stars, really, because I really liked the novella that came after the end of the novel.
Ellie Bowman has been pining for her neighbor and childhood friend, Lord Ned Valentine, for years, but he fell in love with and married her best friend instead. Four years after Cicely died in childbirth, Ned has decided it's time he found a new wife. Unfortunately for Ellie, it hasn't occurred to Ned that the perfect second wife is right in front of him, so Ellie resolves to look elsewhere, with the help of Ned's mother, the "Duchess of Love."
Given the genre, it should surprise no one that the Duchess is secretly plotting to bring her son and Ellie together, although outwardly she has invited two other eligible gentlemen to her annual matchmaking house party. Sir Reginald, the Duchess's thieving housecat, aids the plan by stealing the scandalous red drawers (a.k.a. underwear) Ellie brought with her by accident and repeatedly leaving the garment in Ned's bedroom. When Ned figures out they belong to sedate, frumpy Ellie, his mind suddenly starts picturing her in them, shaking the foundations of his image of her.
I actually thought the ice skating mishap was far more effective a device in opening Ned's eyes to the depth of his regard for Ellie. And I agree with other reviewers who have said that the ending was rushed, rendering it far less believable. If MacKenzie had taken a little more time developing the subplots and her character development, the book would have been much more satisfying. I read this one because it was on Random House's list of top romances for 2012, and I don't think it belonged there. I enjoyed it, but I wouldn't have included it on that list. Still, different things appeal to different people, and this one struck the right chords with the reviewers who made the list. I am more interested in the story behind Ned's brother Ash's estrangement from his wife!
For readers' advisors: story doorway is primary, setting is secondary (19th century England), and character is trailing along behind. There is a sex scene, and some mild historical-style swearing.
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