Series: The Fairbourne Quartet #1
Published by Jove on March 6, 2012
Genres: Historical Romance
A woman running a prestigious London auction house? Preposterous! But that is exactly what Emma Fairbourne intends to do when her father dies, leaving her the reins of this fabulous enterprise. Of course, she is not addlepated enough to do this openly and scare away her wealthy collectors. So she and her friend concoct a deception, hiring a handsome and charming front man who will do her bidding…
All would have proceeded smoothly—if it weren’t for the maddening interference of Darius, the arrogant Earl of Southwaite, who has been her father’s “silent partner” and now shares ownership of Fairbourne’s. An earl, of course, has no interest in running an auction house—and Darius is certainly not interested in allowing the lovely Miss Fairbourne to run it either, her ludicrous scheme notwithstanding. Clearly the business must be sold.
But the headstrong Emma is like no other lady he has ever encountered, refusing to follow his dictates. Holding his temper in check, Darius decides to attack on a different front. There is another way to achieve her surrender, one far more pleasurable for both of them…
When Emma Fairbourne’s father, Maurice, is found dead at the bottom of a cliff near the family cottage in Kent, the duty of running Maurice’s famous auction house, Fairbourne’s, falls to Emma. Except that Society will never accept a woman running a such a prestigious business! Emma plans to hire a front man – someone handsome and charming who can act as the alleged “proprietor” while Emma silently manages the business behind closed doors. But just as she begins putting her plan into motion, Darius, the Earl of Southwaite, appears declaring his half-share interest in the business and his resolute desire to see the entire auction house closed and sold. The war with Napoleon looms on the horizon and Emma must deal with a bevy of spies and smugglers as well as the infuriating Earl of Southwaite if she has any hopes of keeping her father’s auction house open to the public.
The daughter of a tradesman, Emma is a practical person with a preference for speaking very plainly and directly. She is not the type to sugar coat anything and therefore does not understand the ton’s penchant for hiding venom and distaste behind sweet civility.
As an Earl and respected member of society, Darius Alfreton is used to his commands being followed. He is used to people turning to him for answers and those same people believing that he can solve their issues. He has strong beliefs about “women’s work” and is unprepared for Emma Fairbourne’s ability and determination to stand up against those beliefs.
In true Madeline Hunter fashion, the love between Emma and Darius begins subtly and simmers for a while before the lovers give into their feelings. In fact, the attraction between Emma and Darius was such a slow build that when they did consummate their attraction, I doubled back a few pages to see if I had missed something! The clash of wills between Darius and Emma, almost from their very first meeting, is both funny and infuriating. Both characters are strong-willed and convinced they know what is best. This leads to some entertaining arguments, even after they have begun a physical relationship.
I really enjoyed reading The Surrender of Miss Fairbourne. In it Ms. Hunter presents an entertaining and original plot, a steamy romance, and intelligent, witty dialogue. There is just something about Ms. Hunter’s books that strike me as almost poetic. The expressive language and the intricate, intellectual plots are a delight and I look forward to reading more of her works.