Colin Byrd, Viscount Ratcliffe is broke and has creditors breathing down his neck! Having his eye on the richest heiress of the season to get him out of his bind, he thinks it’ll be a breeze to charm his way with the heiress all the way to the wedding. Until he has to match wits and charm with the rich heiress herself Miss.Portia Crompton. Colin is in a very tight bind, with the bills stacking up and running out of time and money, he comes up with a mercenary scheme. Marry the richest heiress of the season and use her very hefty dowry to pay off all his bill, piece of cake! He has plenty of charm to go around it can’t be that hard as he sneaks into the Duke of Albright ball whom happen to also be his family’s nemesis. Having to tread carefully, Colin sees his target Portia Crompton. Portia is having a really hard time of late, not only has she spoke of turn to make the stuffy and proper misses look down at her but being chased by ever man for her dowry. She’s caught between her life of freedom she lived in India and the life she lives now as a proper English miss. Having to deal with stuffy people whom watch in glee when she takes wrong step and having to deal with a them at the Albright ball, Portia feels torn when a sudden savior and a flying strawberry down a mean spirited aristocrat blouse helps her out. When Portia meets her savior a Lord Ratcliffe , she floored by his easy charm but very leery of him as he tries to waltzes off with her. When her mother and The Duke of Albright get Ratcliff to leave the ball, she learns of a dark rumor that follows the Viscount, thinking that was that, not knowing it would be the first of many meetings between Colin and Portia as they match wits in a war of schemes, surprises and love. This was just plain fun. Being one to research books before buying it off the shelf, I was a little worried it end up a bummer. What I got was one fun book that wrapped me up from the first page with great banter between the H/H that reminded me of Annie Gracie’s Perfect Rake and Julia Quinn’s early Bridgertons books with a higher sensual level and swoon worthing hero in Colin and a spitfire heroine Portia. From page one this book never let up and kept me reading all the way through, then making me re-reading all the way through again. It’s that fun of a read. Sometimes with heroines of the time period they are either proper or freedom loving Portia is trying to be both and stuck in the middle. As the oldest of three girls and the daughter of a rich merchant, Portia’s mother is trying to gain respect for herself and pushes her oldest daughter into the society to gain rank. What Portia’s mother doesn’t know is Portia is already in love with a prince from India whom she sends letters to and her childhood friend. Trying her best not to disappoint her father and mother, Portia tries, but longs for her life she had in India. Dealing with men whom only want her money, she writes off Ratcliffe quickly as another man in need of money. She’s shocked that he always keeps appearing and ends up in her own room! To make matters worse, he even steals a picture of her beloved prince and replaces it with a picture of himself! Portia is at wits end with Ratcliffe who keeps asking her to fall for him and his charm, and try as she might to prevent from falling for him, she slowly starts to see behind the devil may care Ratcliffe to the man he truly is. I really liked Portia, she knew her mind and stuck to her guns. While she dreamed of her beloved prince, she knew because of the gap between them, she would no doubt be able to be with him, but her love for her long ago home still draws her. Portia sometimes did jump to conclusions (or lead to) she wasn’t scared of finding out the truth of the matter and even making amends. Portia’ sisters Lindsey and Blythe helped their big sister out many times with Lindsey being the level headed one/spy and Blythe being the flirt/romantic the interactions between them were funny and sometimes very surprising at the trouble they got into! Colin was one of those heroes who, you want for yourself. A charmer, he first comes across as a money schemer, gambling it away while his estates go to ruin. But a even darker rumor follows Colin as he was blamed for the death of his father. Colin seems at times very easy going, but what lurks behind his mask is a gentleman through and through. One willing to protect and keeps his promises. While Colin tries to get money to pay off his mountain of bills, he does everything to win Portia whom he feels a deep pull toward. While his rep does nothing for him, he’s willing to scale walls (which he does a few times) and jump across theater balconies(which he does to) to prove his worth to Portia. While at first he thought he was going to deal with a feather brained English miss, he was surprised to deal with a woman able to match wills with him as the tug of war between the two rages on. Colin is always blocked in his attempt to win Portia favor by a long time nemesis Duke of Albright whom wants her for himself only because Colin wants her. Albright’s anger toward Colin started long before his birth between his father, mother and Albright. This doesn’t stop Colin though, as he slowly starts to fall in love with Portia. Colin was one of those romantic heroes that makes you keep reading romance novels. Some of the stunts he pulled were romantic and although he does end up getting the short end of the stick or being shot at by Portia, he always ends up being that romantic gentleman in the end with a soft heart even toward those whom have hurt him in the past. The sensual level between the two was just at the right degree at the start of the book and builds though the book. And when it gets hot, it’s smoking. Added the right kind of spice to an already amazing book. While the book does deal with some dark aspects, it doesn’t dwell on them and keeps you moving right along. With the added villain(s?) and the doubt that lingers in Portia’s mind about Colin, the story never stops being enjoyable. Not to say there wasn’t some bumps in the road. There was, like the truth behind Colin, but it never really dragged the story down, but only kept you reading. Overall: a surprising gem of a read with a great cast of characters but with two wonderful leads that steal the show. This book made Olivia Drake my new author to follow. I loved this book and eagerly waiting for the next in the series!