Miles set his sights on Cynthia once, at a time when the ambitious beauty thought herself too good for a second son. But now he's the heir apparent, relishing in his control. He strikes a bargain with her: he'll keep Cynthia's steamy secrets and help her find a husband among the guests—in exchange for a single kiss.
What could be the harm in a simple kiss? Cynthia is about to discover that it's enough to unleash fierce passion-and that Miles Redmond is most certainly like no other lover in the world.
As I mentioned earlier, I am kicking myself for not picking up a JAL book sooner. "Like No Other Lover" is the 2nd book in the Pennyroyal series, and as much as I enjoyed the first book, this one blows it completely out of the water. I spent all day Sunday reading LNOL, and it was some of the best hours of reading I've experienced in a long time.
Miles Redmond is a big, quiet man with an incredibly inquisitive mind who approaches everything from the side of logic and science. Nothing scares him as long as he can understand it, rationalize it, and confront with that knowledge. That is until one day at a ball, while just standing there, a flash of color catches his attention - the dress of a woman dancing. He's about to turn away when he catches a glimpse of her face, and from that moment on, his life will never be the same...
In those moments while Miles is staring at her, transfixed, Cynthia Brightly is secure in the knowledge that she is the hit of the season, and as such, she believes she can have any man she chooses. That distinction certainly won't go to a dull second son like Miles, though perhaps his elder brother, Lyon, will do rather nicely. Soon her future is almost certainly guaranteed when she secures the hand of the Earl of Courtland. It's only a matter of time before they are wed.
But now, a year later, things aren't going quite so well for Miss Brightly. Her fiance' has dumped her, she is days away from being completely penniless, and she must quickly and efficiently find another rich fiance' before the scandal catches up with her and ruins her chances of marriage forever. This brings her to Pennyroyal Green and her friend Violet Redmond's home. While attending the Redmond house party, Cynthia begins her rather methodical search, unaware that she is being observed doing so by Miles, who sees exactly what she's all about and doesn't care much for her cold-blooded, mercenary ways. But after trading some rather pointed and accurate barbs, Miles offers a challenge up to Miss Brightly: he will assist her in her quest for a husband by supplying her with useful information about each prospective groom in exchange for a kiss.
Cynthia reluctantly agrees, and immediately Miles directs her to a hidden location to transact their business without causing a scandal. Miles questions his sanity in kissing a woman who so obviously doesn't want his kisses, and it certainly isn't that other women don't find him attractive, but in for a penny, in for a pound. He's determined to get this over with quickly, but one touch of his lips to hers and he's lost in sensations he's never quite experienced before. Spellbound, aroused, it ends before he gets to the point of no return, and even as they walk away from each other, it takes some time for the burn to disappear, and even longer for to be forgotten....
Where do I begin? Do you ever have the problem of loving a book so much that you just cannot find the words to adequately describe it? That is exactly how this book has made me feel. As I read it I kept marveling at the layers being peeled away, revealing a thoroughly fascinating and complex relationship between two people who have been so wrong about each other right from the beginning. Miles is guilty of having seen only the dollar signs in Cynthia's eyes, unaware that she is desperately hanging on by a thread to her dignity and her reputation, whereas Cynthia believes Miles is a boring, invisible man with limited experience with the opposite sex, when in fact he is quite an exciting adventurer with a fascination for bugs and a strong sexual appetite.
Despite his promise to his father that he would court another, more appropriate woman to be his bride, Miles cannot ignore the vibrant charm that naturally exudes from Cynthia; it is as much a part of her as breathing, and he's not anymore immune to it than any other man, especially she knows how to brandish it like a weapon in order to get what she wants. It reluctantly draws him to her time and again and he finds her wit and intelligence and even her lack of goodness to be more suited to his style.
And while Cynthia once scoffed at the idea of a man like Miles courting her, now he seems to be the only man who truly captures her attention, and understands her in ways that are almost frightening. His unique and thoughtful gestures are enough to break down all of Cynthia's defenses, despite her best efforts to protect her heart.
One of the things I found so interesting is how both Miles and Cynthia naturally adapted themselves to the more intrinsic parts of the other's personality. At one time disgusted by the spiders that spun webs along her windowsill, Cynthia finds herself checking in on her arachnid roommate that Miles defends so proudly. Miles' eloquent descriptions of the bugs and insects he adores establishes a peculiar kind of symmetry to Cynthia that is pure poetry. And though Miles believes he wants a woman who is good and kind-hearted for a wife, he's utterly captivated by the more clever and resourceful aspects of Cynthia's personality; her pragmatic and ambitious goals tend to suit his logical mind more easily than the agreeable and pleasant nature of the young woman he is courting. It isn't until Miles is made aware of the direness of Cynthia's troubles that he begins to truly comprehend the fear and desperation driving her to finding a husband, and gets a tiny glimpse into what it really must be like to live her life, day to day.
I don't know how to describe the way this book made me feel other than to say that I could feel Miles and Cynthia falling in love as if it were me living through the experience. The poignant moments where they saw the other so clearly but knew their chosen paths took them in opposite directions. Their utter joy at just being in each other's presence. The complete acceptance of the other person to just "be". It was all there. And I adored every second of it. All I wanted to do when I read the last page was to go to the beginning and re-read it all over again and recapture the amazing feeling this story gave me. I wish all the books I read had such magic.
Rating: ***** out of *****