The Wild One
by Danelle HarmonBook #1 in the de Monteforte Brothers series
Buy: Amazon - B&N
Lord Gareth de Montforte is known as an irresponsible rake with a heart of gold. When he thwarts a stagecoach robbery, he is stunned to discover that the beautiful young woman he has heroically rescued, Juliet Paige, is his deceased brother's fiancée, accompanied by her infant daughter. Despite his family's refusal to acknowledge Juliet, Gareth is determined to do right by the courageous woman who crossed an ocean to give her baby the name she rightfully deserves.
As a practical American woman, Juliet is wary of marrying this black sheep aristocrat, yet she is hopelessly charmed by the dashing devil. Never has she met anyone who embraces life so thoroughly, who makes her laugh, who loves her so well. And, even when it seems the odds are against them, Juliet has absolute faith that Gareth will go beyond the call of duty to give her and her daughter a home -- and a love that will last a lifetime.
Juliet Paige is on her way to England to meet the family of her deceased fiance, Charles de Monteforte. She's arrived from war-torn Boston with her 6-month old daughter, Charlotte, the product of her relationship with Charles, and it's been a year since his death. When her stage coach is attacked by highwaymen not far from the de Monteforte estate, as fate would have it, Gareth de Monteforte comes to the rescue of the travelers but is injured in the process. It's not long before they realize each other's identity.
Gareth is also called The Wild One for his cavorting ways. It's a well-deserved title and he and his group of friends are called the Den of Debauchery. I'm not normally a fan of these type characters but Gareth is hard to dislike. He has a big heart and kind soul, even if he is a screw up. Coming to Julie's rescue was a turning point for him after experiencing what it feels like to do something right. Even with his oldest brother, Lucien's manipulation, Gareth is determined to do the right thing by marrying Juliet and giving his niece a name and a father. While he has good intentions, he has no idea of how to carry this off.
Juliet also tries to put her love for Charles behind her and accept Gareth as her husband, as is. Gareth has lived his whole life being compared to Charles and it's hard for Juliet to not do so as well. The journey they take to create a bond is directly linked with his efforts to grow up, become a responsible man who can take care of his new family and find self-respect. When they reach that pivotal point, you've been to hell and back with them and it is so satisfying. I was so taken in by Gareth's charm and Juliet's grit and determination and loved the story, which is very well written, in keeping with the voice and style of the period (circa 1775-76). It isn't predictable in the least and there are highs and lows I never anticipated. I had a wonderful time with this book and didn't want to let go when I reached the last page.
I'm definitely continuing this series, which seems to be a diamond in the rough. Harmon is my new favorite author in this genre.