Originally posted on Goodreads February 14th 2013.
Gentleman Seeks Housekeeper. Must be willing to travel.
Desperate for another life away from Philadelphia, headstrong and beautiful Mariah Cooper answers an advertisement for a housekeeper at the other end of the continent. Waiting in California is the most breathtaking—and arrogant—man she has ever met . . . and he’d like nothing better than for Mariah to go back home!
Logan Yates has run Destiny, the family ranch,since he was a boy. He doesn’t need this Eastern miss his stepmother hired, though his home’s chaotic state suggests otherwise. Still, he’s secretly pleased that Mariah gives as good as she gets—and he must fight the urge to take her in his arms and kiss her whenever she proudly stands her ground. But when he’s in danger of losing her, Logan will have to choose between pride . . . and his heart’s true desire.
Mariah Cooper wants a life for herself. She wants a husband and children, and she wants a career as a seamstress where she works for herself instead for her mother. None of these things she can get in Philadelphia, so with a little help from her aunt Mariah answers an advertisement for a housekeeper and travels across the continent to find a new life in California. Her reluctant employer, Logan Yates finds himself bewitched by the spirited widow. He ends up wanting to share his life and family with her and it only takes him a little over a week to decide this.
Jenkins takes the time to set up both Mariah’s life in Philadelphia and Logan’s life on his farm before bringing the characters together—with a clash or ten. Mariah’s decided to change her life and she won’t let anyone walk all over her ever again. This leads to repeated conflicts with Logan who is used to getting his way without having to invest too much of himself.
The banter between these two characters is wonderful as are the little titbits about Californian history the author sprinkles between the pages. I loved that all their troubles came from their characterisations instead of manufactured obstacles. Mariah wants to commit, Logan doesn’t, and neither is hiding the fact. There’s quite a lot of plain speaking and whatever lies or secrets are told, they don’t stay secret forever. Truths comes out and they have consequences. For example, Mariah admits she’s attracted to Logan but that doesn’t change her mind about wanting a commitment. For Logan, when he finally changes his inconstant ways, there are consequences for that too.
Even though the romance itself takes barely a week to develop, it doesn’t feel rushed. With the exception of the sex scenes. The initial kisses and seduction worked well for me, but their first actual sex scene and the events leading up to it felt more like a slapdash-afterthought method had been applied in writing them. It made me question whether or not the publisher had asked them to be added in later. This could also explain why I felt like the author missed the optimal notes for the emotional pay offs such as their I love yous and the umpteenth proposal. Luckily, Mariah’s confrontation with her mother saved a lot.
Destiny’s Embrace is the first book of a trilogy and there is the definite feeling that Jenkins is setting things up for a bigger story. She spends a lot of time on introducing secondary characters like Logan’s stepmother and half-brothers, and expanding their personal histories. For some reason the book also felt little anachronistic; it felt like a 1990’s kind of a book rather than a historical romance written in the 2010’s. I don’t have enough perspective to properly explain why this is.
My thanks to Sarah for gifting me this book when I had trouble buying a copy.