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Lady Emma, a British aristocrat and public school head teacher, needs to lose her good reputation in order to get out of an engagement that she doesn't want to keep without destroying the school that she loves. Kenny, an American golfer and quite possibly the laziest man in Texas, needs to do the opposite. To save his career he needs to prove that he's upstanding citizen. When Emma takes a holiday to America with the intention of destroying her reputation her good friend suggests Kenny as a guide for her. Kenny and Emma can't fail to annoy each other but there's a fine line between love and hate and soon they find themselves caught up in something that neither of them expected.
The stereotypically English portrayal of Lady Emma immediately annoyed me in this novel. It seemed at nights that she hadn't just travelled to America by plane but also by time machine. There's nothing wrong with the fact that the way she dresses seems slightly out of date or the fact that she seems to belong to a class system that is still stuck in the feudal times, that's reality for some people and this is a fiction novel anyway. The problem is that it's all portrayed as being how English people are. This was something that I had to ignore for most of the book just so that I could enjoy it.
I didn't particularly like either of the main characters from the book. Emma always came across as a bit too stereotypical. Her naivety was quite endearing at times and she fit the classic romance novel heroine quite well but for the most part I felt indifferent about her. There just wasn't much there to hold my interest. It wasn't even that she was two dimensional or poorly developed it's just that she didn't interest me. There were times I admit when I thought actually I quite like this character but those times were few and far between. Kenny was a character that I found difficult to like. He's very lazy and that's a quality that I really dislike in people. He doesn't fit the romantic hero archetype at all, partly because he's so lazy. He's not the kind of character who goes out of his way to help people, he doesn't fit the anti-hero role either. He's just somewhere in between and that didn't really work. I think that having a hero who is different to the usual type can be a good thing and can work very well but they still have to have something about them that makes women (or men) think that there's something about them that is desirable. With Kenny I didn't think there was anything.
The romance story itself was actually pretty good considering how little I connected with the characters. One thing I particularly liked was that Emma is described as being very ordinary in terms of the way she looks but Kenny thinks she's beautiful. He can't imagine that anyone else doesn't find her irresistible, much to the shock of his sister and other characters. I thought it was so sweet. I think that when you're in love the other person often seems irresistible to you while others sometimes can't see what you see and the author portrayed this wonderfully. She managed to build quite a lot of heat between the two characters which is always a good thing in a romance novel. I like romance novels where there's some tension between the two characters and there was certainly plenty of tension between the two of them. It was all dramatic and over the top and exactly what a romance novel should be.
As with some (or possible even most) SEP novels the secondary storyline was so much better. Kenny's sister is being forced into a marriage that she doesn't want and the secondary plot tells the story of her relationship with the man she's being forced to marry. They're just much more interesting characters. Their backgrounds are more interesting, their personalities more engaging and there's much more fire between them. I felt that the book would have been more interesting if it had focused on this and had Kenny and Emma as the secondary storyline.
This book gets four stars from me. This wasn't one of Susan Elizabeth Phillips best novels but I did still enjoy it. I would certainly recommend it to fans of her novels.