Sometimes you find a book that has all the best elements the romance genre has to offer- a beautiful, well-bred lady, a handsome peer, a curse on a family, a well-meaning Aunt and Grandmother, oh and a little magic as well. All this and more is what I found in Victoria Alexander's final book in The Last Man Standing series. Of course, I've not read the first two in this series, just the third and now the fourth. Who am I to mess with my record for starting a series backwards?
Lady Kathleen MacDavid, a widow of nine years, finds herself with her Aunt in London to find a way to pair herself with Oliver, the Earl of Norcroft. Both Kathleen and Oliver descend from families that five hundred years ago were at war with each other on the border of Scotland and England. Doomed to ill luck since then (meaning the death of many a man in their early years that marries into the Dumleavy family, or attempts to court Kathleen) Kathleen goes along with the plan to unite the two families in marriage to hopefully break the curse. Her plans go astray when her Aunt has her brought to Norcroft manner unconscious and unknown. Kathleen wakes to find herself along in a strange house with the Earl and his mother, not knowing her name or where she came from. With only feelings of who she is supposed to be to guide her, she allows Oliver to help her with trying to regain her memory.
Rightfully suspicious, Oliver allows Kathleen to stay in his home at the urging of his mother and a weird feeling that she was meant to be there. Having won the bet between his friends to be the last man unwed, Oliver feels the pressure from his mother and his self to find a wife. However, Oliver is determined to marry for love and finds himself falling under the spell of Kathleen and her mysterious identity. He feels drawn to her and she to him, but neither can explain why. The more time he spends with her, the more his finds himself unable to part with her. He is a rational man, who when faced with the news of the curse and Kathleen's restored memory, decides to flee to decide his feelings and to come with a logical explanation other than the curse. Neither planned to fall in love.
The tale is not as simple as that of course, but telling much more would give it away entirely. The book was such a sweet mix of fun, magic and love that it was hard to put down when break time was over! I really felt the hopelessness of Kathleen as she tried to find her memories. Oliver is a treat himself, being a proper gentleman thinking quite improper thoughts of a woman under his roof with no memory. The clashes between these two are very romantic and fun in the only way a courtship with a woman who has no idea who she is can be. It is well worth the time to read!