I LOVE RAFE AND FELICITY.
There, I said it.
I had my heart up in my throat most of the time, when Rafe and Felicity are together. This is a extremely cute story of a second son of a duke and a damsel in distress, aka the twin sister of a idiotic young who lost his inheritance to said second son. Rafe is a good-natured rake. He lacks nothing except a sense of belonging. A rather first world problem he has, I would say. His problem is never measuring up to his older brother and his father's expections. Popular among the ladies, he uses traveling to disguise the emptiness of his life (ok this is my interpretation). He needs money for his next grand trip to the orient and Felicity's idiotic twin brother lost his inheritance to Rafe. Rafe thought he hit the jackpot and went to the country holding, hoping to sell it to finance his trip.
Major miscalculation. The holding is a dump.
Felicity and her sister May are left behind. They stay on in the family holding, having no clue that their brother has lost the property to Rafe. That is how Rafe met Felicity.
This story is light-hearted. There is no brooding hero, no whining heroine. Rafe is joyful. He is a playboy, a lady's man, who enjoys the joy of life, who seeks pleasure and is great fun. Felicity is reasonable, strong but vulnerable. She cries, but never is hysterical. She never blamed Rafe for his claim on her family property. He won it fair and square. Thank you Ms Enoch for that. I imagine another writer would exploit that piece of emotion and turn Felicity into a "loyal" heroine who fights to save her home. Falicity loves her home, but she knows it is not Rafe's fault and shows such grace in accepting that, knowing the blame lies with her own brother.
My favorite favorite thing about this story, has to be Rafe and Felicity. The way they are together makes you heart warm. You feel their hesitation, their fears of not being loved, fears of being each other's burden, fears of taking away each other's dream. Their struggles come from love. They want what's best for each other and would rather sacrifice themselves so that the other person could be happy. No past ugly history. No abuse. Just 2 people falling in love, having conflicting goals and trying to come to terms with the fact that there may be something more important than what they initially thought they could not part with.
What I also really liked about the story, may not be everybody's cup of tea. Rafe and Felicity have no qualms (well they did but not enough to prevent them from admitting that they love each other). They hold back because of course they both fear rejection, fear not being good enough for the other person to leave their "dreams" behind: Rafe's traveling and Felicity's love for her famile home. But they both braved it. They fell in love, in spite of knowing that there may be no future for them. They are kind and loving to each other, they are open about their hurts, jealousy and disapopintment. Most important of all, they own up to those emotions. They know they had no reason to expect commitment from each other and they do not blame the other person when they are let down. They know their relationship is at odds with their original goals. They realize that they are disappointed not because the other person is a major ass and did not care. They accept that the other person has other objectives and it is not a reflection of their feelings towards each other. I think it shows both characters are mature and able to deal with their, however unwarranted, feelings of inferiority while being compared to the other person's "dreams". The characters and the relationship get 5 stars from me without a doubt.
I love the book myself but the book has some major holes. The plots are sometimes too simple, too transparent, and too convenient. The last 20% of the book was abrupt and under-developed. How "uninhibited" Felicity is about becoming intimate with Rafe is a little shocking though depicted with class.
In all honesty I cannot give the book 5 stars. The plots have much potentials and could have been so great. But the story is already almost 400 pages long and any further development is unlikely. It is a story that warmed my heart. I could have finished the book in one sitting. But I was "procrastinating" with this book, just so that I could stay with Rafe and Felicity a little longer.