Then Came You - Lisa Kleypas After waffling between a four and a five, I'm going for broke and slapping a fiver on this wonderful story. Lily is a magnificent heroine. She just feels so REAL in everything she says and does. She's audacious and bold and makes mistakes, but she also has very human quirks and vulnerabilities that she doesn't want to reveal to anyone (or doesn't trust to reveal) after having gone so long only relying on her own independence. When Alex comes along and is smitten almost from the start, she doesn't know what to do with him. They clash fearfully from the beginning, but we all know what that means - clashing leads to strong emotions leads to sexytimes and, finally, happily ever after.

I was a little apprehensive about the fact that Alex starts the story betrothed to Lily's proper, follows-all-the-rules sister. This aspect of the story doesn't get in the way emotionally, though, because it's clear from the start that Alex doesn't love (or have any strong feelings for) Penelope, and Penelope, in turn, is quite intimidated by Alex's stiff, brooding manner. Lily, who is estranged from her family, learns of the match from a friend who has a particular interest, and she butts heads with Alex when she finally meets him to judge for herself whether he is a good match for Penny. Lily sees that he is all wrong for her gentle sister, so of course she sweeps onto the scene in a wild stunt to save her sister from this impossible match. Alex doesn't know what has hit him - and suddenly he feels alive for the first time since his former fiancé died a couple of years ago. His blood is boiling over, and he is plotting any number of ways to outwit and outmaneuver Lily.

When Alex and Lily finally get together, and when he lays all of his cards on the table with her, I was on the edge of my seat, eager to see how it would all unfold. Needless to say, it unfolds marvelously and in a very moving and emotionally fulfilling way.

I really liked this book - it was easily a 4.5-5 star read for me - and now I think it's time to do a reread (or at least a skim read) of Dreaming of You to get reacquainted with Derek Craven. :)

P.S. As an aside, in terms of personality, the main characters here actually reminded me of Georgie and Gus (only Georgie calls him that - his name is Augustus) in Love's Gambit, a delightful traditional Regency with another impetuous and impulsive heroine and a seemingly cold and stiff nobleman for a hero. If you're a reader of traditional Regencies and you liked Lily and Alex's story, I'd recommend giving that one a try.