Since I already posted a promo for this book, I won't bother you with a repeat of the synopsis, but instead I'll just dive just into the story. Francine Annesley is more interested in all things botany than men and would rather spend her time in her family's hothouse then in a crowded ballroom. However, her father insists on her marrying, so in order to accommodate his wishes, she attends various events throughout London. She has had no success in five seasons and is not hopeful for her future endeavors on the marriage market. It is as one of these dances that she runs into her old childhood friend Julian Beckwith, whom she doesn't recognize at first. Yet, when they gradually become reacquainted, all those feelings she thought had disappeared long ago, come rushing back to the surface. When we first meet Francine, she is seen as timid and quiet as a mouse. Her renewed feelings that were sparked with Julian's return gradually give her more confidence and in the end, she is able to follow her heart's desire.
In the words of the great Poet, the course of true love never did run smooth. It is no different for Francine and Julian. She must learn to admit her feelings for Julian, which at first she ignores, then refuses, but ultimately gives in to. Julian has a secret that caused him to give up their correspondence, which had kept them in touch throughout the years, until he stopped writing to her altogether. Harmony Williams does an excellent job of portraying the passion, angst, and ultimate joy of these two characters.
Another great point for this book was the cast of supporting characters in the story. Francine's two best friends Rose and Mary are, in a word, hilarious! Rose is recently married and has her mind made up that she will help Francine find a husband. She tends to be a little on the dramatic side and no doubt in today's standards would be considered quite the diva. Mary is by far my favorite character. She feels very strongly that women are equal to men and should be treated thus. Her blunt tongue and mischievous antics made me burst out loud more than once. Francine's parents are on opposite sides of the spectrum, with her mother sharing her love of botany and being a wee bit absentminded while her father is overbearing, harsh, and, at times, even a bit cruel. Another part of the story I enjoyed was Francine assigning plant names to describe the people around her. These were oftentimes, not very flattering, especially to her would be suitors. Julian is lovable and loyal to his heart, and completely madly in love with Francine. Here's a glimpse of a conversation between Francine and Julian:
“Tell me about this plant you saw.”
“You know I can’t do it justice.” Mirth infused his voice. “I once described a rose to you as ‘red.’”
I chuckled. “Well, you weren’t wrong.”
“I also wasn’t very observant, as you pointed out for the next hour.” He shuddered. “It was very like schoolwork. I think you made me memorize the parts.”
I lifted my head. “I did not.”
“You made me repeat them so often, it felt as though you did.”
I smiled. “You didn’t get it wrong after that, did you?”
“Of course I did.” He barked out a laugh. “You know I have no head for that kind of thing.”
“No?” I shifted to study his face while we spoke. “I’d wager you could describe your crops to the tiniest detail.”
He shook his head. “Not even if you threatened my life. But I can look at them and tell you if they look…wrong.”
I laughed. “Is that the technical term?”
“You know what I mean.” He threw his free hand into the air. “Weak. Sickly.”
I grinned. I was only teasing him. Judging by the half smile turning up one corner of his mouth, he knew it.
“You did an admirable job describing the problem with your crops. The one I helped with.”
His arm tightened around my shoulders. “Thank you again, by the way.”
My cheeks heated as my gaze dropped to his mouth. The heat of his body surrounded me. I’d never felt so relaxed, comfortable and yet aware of him at the same time. Would he kiss me again? When he made no move to, I leaned closer. He didn’t pull away.
While I did enjoy my reading of this story, there were some parts that did fall short for me. The constant reminder throughout the book that Francine had injured her ankle, but she continued to use and abuse it was a bit annoying. I didn't feel like the connection between Francine and Julian was as strong as it possibly could be. Lord Valentia, Francine's father, seemed a bit harsh and his constant disapproval of her, detracted from his character. Finally, Mary stole the show for me and at certain points I felt myself wanting to hear more about her, rather than return to Francine's and Julian's' story. Despite these small criticisms, I thoroughly enjoyed my reading of How to Ruin You Reputation in 10 Days. Go check out my previous post for info on how to get a copy of this book and check out the author's page. Until next time...