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Fox loved Ginny from the first moment, but she fell in love with his best friend and married him. Hurt pride and a broken heart caused Fox to say things he never really meant to say -- and he ended up hurting Ginny ... and himself.
Now Ginny is a widow, out of mourning, and back in London for the Season as companion to Hester Rendell -- and Fox has another chance to make things right between them, but Ginny has not forgotten or forgiven Fox yet she cannot ignore her own body's response to his ardent attentions.
Ginny isn't in London for herself but for Hester, and when a fixture of the London Ton decides to target Hester (and Ginny) with his insults, and goes too far by making scandalous insinuations about Fox and Ginny, Fox risks his reputation (and his life) to defend her honor.
There are always two sides to the same story: for Fox, it was always about love, but the love that Fox felt was too intense, too big for him to put to words and, when he did try, the wrong words came out. He watched the love of his life marry his best friend and he tried to move on and forget her but he never did.
Years later, Fox is no longer the prideful scoundrel he once was and he has been given a second chance and he tries to prove to Ginny that he is worthy of her love: He becomes Hester's and Ginny's champion against Dinwitty Lane, who is, perhaps, the most annoying character in all of historical romancedom. (Who does nothing but provoke the characters, like an obnoxious fly.)
What is the complication to the story? Ginny. Whose side of the story shows her hurt, her embarrassment over Fox's dismissal of her years ago -- and now her bewilderment at his sudden change of heart. She's determined to protect her heart this time around -- she surrenders her body to Fox but keeps her heart closed to his declarations.
I can't help but compare Not Proper Enough to When He Was Wicked by Julia Quinn and to Beguiling the Beauty by Sherry Thomas because they have similar premises -- but that is where the similarity ends. What I love about the historical romance genre is how each author takes on the challenge of making classic plot lines fresh and new. Julia Quinn focused on moving forward by letting go of the past (Francesca was still in the mourning stages), Sherry Thomas focused on the revenge aspect and Carolyn Jewel's Ginny had already finished mourning her husband and is really just trying to protect herself from further heartache.
"My dear man, I don't have dreams about you. I have nightmares."
"You wound me."
"What sort of man could win your heart?" She hesitated, and he cursed his clumsiness because he knew the answer. She had found the man she loced. "Someone like Robert," he said softly. "Honorable. Amiable. Intelligent. A man everyone likes. Never out of sorts. Never cross."
"Not never." She smiled -- sadly, he fancied. "But yes, rarely."
"I am sorry for your loss. You know that, I hope."
She sighed. "For a very long time after he died, I thought I'd never love another man."
"And now?" His heart gave a hard thump. Had Aigen pressed his suit with her while he was away?
"I know I'll never love anyone the way I loved Robert."She packed away her sewing kit, and his eyes followed the line of her cheek, the sweep of her throat. With a sideways glance at him, a careless one, she said, "I'd love another man a different way." She dropped her etui in her reticule before she looked up. "Because he would be a different man, you understand. Not Robert. Someone else, and he would be worthy of me and I worthy of him in an entirely different way."
- pp. 130 - 132
Ginny is no longer a shy, country bumpkin (remember that she is Mountjoy's sister) but is now an empowered woman. She knows what love is and she knows that what she feels for Fox isn't the same kind of love she felt for Robert -- and she isn't afraid to tell Fox so. Throughout her journey, I appreciated the conversations she had with Fox, how she tried to sound out her confusion and anger and how Fox accepted the burden of her pain.
...When he looked at her, her defiance was back.
She said, "You're not Robert." Her eyes flashed. "It doesn't matter how good you are with your cock, you'll never be Robert."
Fox released her thigh and turned her around. "No. I am not. Nor do I intend to even attempt to be him."
- p. 174
There is also a secondary plot line between Hester and the Duke of Camber. I felt the chemistry from their first meeting -- but Jewel drops their story in the middle and left me to wonder if I imagined the attraction -- more so when other men were thrown Hester's way but the author picked up their story again in the end.
That small niggle aside, this was another gratifying book from one of my favorite authors and I look forward to the next installment. ^_^
Not Proper Enough is the second book in Carolyn Jewel's Reforming the Scoundrels series. To find out more about the author and her books, click below: