Lately, Ames and I haven't been reading the same books. It just hasn't happened. However, we talk daily about the books we are reading and we'll check out the books that have the other excited :) Lucky for me, I got to The Best Intentions by Candice Hern quick enough that Ames hasn't had the chance to review it yet and voila, buddy review! So let see if this book worked as well for me as it did for Ames :)
self-published in May 2011 (first published by New American Library in June 1999)
The Earl of Strickland is a handsome widower in search of a new wife to be a mother to his two young children. Having lost his one true love, he is determined on a practical, dispassionate match with a mature woman. Young girls in their first Seasons, their heads full of romantic notions of love, are not for him. When his sister comes to visit bringing along a beautiful widow, Miles thinks he may have found the perfect match. But the widow is chaperoning her gauche, much younger sister, an artless girl who causes Miles's best intentions to go awry as he finds himself falling in love with precisely the sort of woman he sought to avoid. Set at a grand country estate in the Midlands, this sweet love story of the reserved and dignified Miles and the delightfully guileless, clumsy, outspoken Hannah is sure to charm readers.Genre: Historical romance
Series: Country House Party, Book #2
The Story: Miles is a widower who is looking for a mature woman to marry to provide some guidance for his young daughters. He’s against marrying a fresh out of the schoolroom debutante. And then there’s Hannah. She may not be fresh out of the schoolroom, but she is young, too young for Miles. Or so he thinks. But Hannah is not an empty headed deb. Nope, she likes architecture (to the detriment of her sister) and she prefers to be outdoors. She’s also the kind of person to say whatever that pops into her head without a filter. And she’s exuberant enough that she tends to be a bit clumsy. Which is the opposite of Miles. He’s the kind of guy who’s mantra could be “a place for everything and everything in its place.”
Hannah and her sister Charlotte are invited to Miles’ country estate by his sister, who is trying her hand at matchmaking. The intended recipient of Miles’ affection is Charlotte, not Hannah. But matchmaking doesn’t always go the way one wants it to...
Ames: So Nath, what did you think of The Best Intentions? Was my excitement over it warranted? :P
Nath: Hmmmm, trick question! LOL. I can see why you were so excited about The Best Intentions, Ames, and I did enjoy the book, but not as much as you. I think as a whole, the story was very cute and Hannah’s character, so likable... However, I’m not sure I buy the romance at the end of the day.
Ames: I loved Hannah. I thought she was refreshing and I felt bad for her - her older sister was always trying to drum rules about polite society into her head, to no avail really.
“Put your books away, my girl,” she had said to Hannah on more than one occasion. “Never let a gentleman believe you to have a brain. They are insecure creatures at best and are threatened by the very idea of an intelligent woman.”And I liked how the relationship with Miles grew over the course of their stay at Miles’ country estate.
Now Nath - what about the romance did you not buy into?
Nath: My feelings for Hannah are similar to yours, Ames. I really liked Hannah, she was a breath of fresh air and I can see why Miles fell in love with her. She was unconventional, true, but she was real, genuine and without artifice... unlike her sister. So yes, I understand why Miles was charmed :) However, I can’t say the same as to why Hannah fell in love with Miles and that’s why I had difficulty buying into the romance. Yes, Miles was handsome and he listened to her when she spoke of architecture... I can buy infatuation, but love? Not sure.
Ames: That’s a good point! I think part of it was that he accepted her the way she was - compare that to her sister always seeming to criticize her. Another thing is that these two don’t even realize that they’re attracted to each other. Miles thinks he wants Charlotte and Hannah thinks he wants Charlotte too! LOL But in their interactions with each other, we can plainly see that Hannah is the better fit for him. And he’s a good fit for her too. He knows himself, he’s comfortable in his skin, and that’s the only kind of man who could suit Hannah, in my opinion. Someone who is insecure or into taking part of the ton (not merely being a member of it) would not suit her because like her sister, they could be critical. Does that make sense?
Nath: I definitely agree that Hannah was a better fit for Miles. I think he was a bit put off by how aggressive Charlotte pursued him. I have to wonder, had Miles not be previously rejected by a debutante, would he had recognized that Hannah was the one he was attracted to earlier?
Also you make sense LOL. Miles being comfortable in his skin and accepting her the way she was allowed Hannah to be who she truly was in his presence. She wouldn’t have fared well with someone who was insecure, but then again, she never had any intention to find a husband.
I have to say, poor Hannah, being all confused as to Miles’ true feelings ^_^; He really didn’t make it easy for her :( And I think that’s another reason I didn’t buy the romance, the lack of courtship. Ah well.
Ames: Well it wasn’t an overt courtship. And I think if Miles did recognize Hannah as the one he wanted and did court her overtly, it might have scared her away, because you are right, she wasn’t looking for a husband. Remember that scene when she gets out of the carriage at Miles’ house and says he’s not as old as she thought he’d be? LOL
But yes the ending when she thought Miles still wanted her sister. Poor thing. AND remember when she was stuck in the hole for hours and how mad Miles got on her behalf? I loved that part!!
Nath: LOL, that was really cute, especially since Hannah was so absorbed she didn’t even realized it’d been hours! And hmmm, I think you’re right. Had Miles overtly wooed her, she probably would have bolted. So I guess it’s good the way it happened :)
I know the whole point about The Best Intentions was that Hannah was young and therefore, not the one Miles should have been attracted to, which makes the whole story quite ironic, LOL. However, I have to say, at times, I felt like Hannah was really young and immature ^_^; Like the part where she played with the kids... I usually love characters who get along well with children, but in this case, with her youthful appearance, it felt like she was almost one and I don’t see how Miles would be attracted to her. Also, the whole ball was very uncomfortable... I wished she had stuck to her individuality and the “didn’t care” attitude.
Ames: I liked her interactions with the children. I didn't think it made her seem younger but it did highlight her carefree nature. She could get creative and imaginative with them. Also, I like to play with my little cousins on that level. :). Its fun Nath.
What do you mean about the ball?
Nath: No, I know what you mean, Ames. I like playing with small children too! As I said, I usually really like that in heroes and heroines. I think my problem here is that Miles’ first impression of Hannah is that she’s not even out of the school room, so very young. And the way she played with the kids, I feel it would only have reinforced that impression... and I can’t see Miles falling in love with that image. Of course, in the end, it works out because Miles fell in love with Hannah more for her personality... but it’s something that bothered me.
As for the ball, I meant how she wanted to appear as a lady, impress Miles. To a certain extent, I understand why she was upset at the accident, especially since Miles was the one to witness it. However, I felt her reaction was a bit extreme and that in the end of the day, she shouldn’t have cared as much, she shouldn’t have to change to please someone... Does that make sense?
Ames: But I don’t think Miles does fall in love with that image. Because there are other images of her playing with his kids as well, like her teaching them through her drawings and taking them with her to the church. I don’t know - he’s in denial about how he feels about her for so long, I don’t think he would fall in love with her at that point either.
As for the ball, I disagree. LOL I think her reaction is spot on. She put pressure on herself to start acting like the lady her sister wants her to be and that she thinks would impress Miles. Yes, it’s not a good thing to try to change yourself, but she learned that lesson, didn’t she? She got a bucketful of embarrassment heaped on her head for her troubles and the one man she tries to impress is the one to witness it. I would freak out if that happened to me! LOL
LOL I think we’re just going in circles here. I am going to argue with you on every point because I enjoyed this book so much! But you’re really making me think about it more. :P
Ooh you know what I liked? This is a bit spoilery, but Charlotte’s reaction to her sister taking her man out from under her nose. I thought it was nice that she didn’t freak out. I think that showed that despite her trying to make Hannah more of a lady, she truly cared for her and wanted her to be happy. And she was mature enough to realize that things weren’t going to work between her and Miles so she wasn’t going to make a fuss.
Nath: I know I’m being picky here, but contrary to what it seemed, I did like The Best Intentions! It was just the romance that I thought could have been a bit better... I’m glad that by bringing up my issue is making you think about it more :)
As for Charlotte’s reaction, once again, I agree with you. I admit that I didn’t like her very much throughout the story, but she earned my respect with how well she took Miles’ decision. I think part of it is she knew already that she had failed to capture Miles’ interest. Still, I think she was happy for Hannah and I feel she learned something out of it :)
Ames: All right then, I’m glad you enjoyed it. What would you grade it? I’m going with a B+. I was totally engrossed in the story and I thought Hannah was a refreshing character.
Nath: I enjoyed the story and Hannah’s character, but I wasn’t into The Best Intentions as much as you and the romance bugged me a little for the reasons we discussed. For me, it’s a B- :)