Review – The Awakening of Miss Henley by Julia Justiss

About the Book:

After five seasons…

She was still on the shelf!

Part of The Cinderella Spinsters. Miss Emma Henley knows she’s neither pretty nor rich enough to land a husband. Instead she’s thrown her passion into good causes. But this season she’s tempted by a flirtation with Lord Theo. The dashing rake is just as determined to stay unwed as she is. It’s scandalous…but if she’s never to marry, perhaps he can show her the pleasures of the marriage bed!


Click on title below for direct Amazon buy link:                                                   The Awakening of Miss Henley (The Cinderella Spinsters Book 1)

My Review:

I received a complimentary copy of this book.

Emma Henley, cruelly dubbed as “Homely Miss Henley” by society is in her fifth season and still unmarried.  Truth be told, she has her own income, and has no interest in marriage, unless it’s a genuine love match.  Since that outcome seems more unlikely every day, she’s determined to set up her own household, which she’ll share with her friends, while devoting her time and energy to her political activities.

Theo Collington is the younger son of a marquess, and, therefore, not the heir.  His father encouraged him to live the typical rakish lifestyle enjoyed by many young gentlemen of the ton, including affairs with bored women, unfortunately, many of whom are married.  When his latest mistress causes a bit of a scandal, he decides to end their alliance and take a breather before becoming involved in another relationship.

Emma and Theo are acquainted, and she caught his attention by putting him firmly in his place when he pretended to remember their previous introduction.  Theo accepted her setdown graciously and with humor, and the two became friends, enjoying their banter and plain speaking.  Emma knows exactly the kind of man Theo is, and has no illusions about him, or his interest in her.  Still, she can’t deny how his good looks and charm cause her pulse to race, and her imagination to run wild.  Theo sees beyond what others consider her plain looks to see the passion in her eyes about the causes she supports.  He finds her intensity and her forthright manner extremely appealing, and he can’t help but wonder if her passion would extend to the bedroom.  But she’s an innocent, and off limits to him, so he’ll have to be content to enjoy their friendship.

Their early morning rides together in the park and their amusing conversations soon have Theo and Emma becoming closer than ever, and desire is simmering below the surface though neither has openly addressed it yet.  When Emma’s dream of her own home is finally about to come true, she and Theo decide to have a no-strings, limited affair.  If marriage is not in her future, she’ll at least have a taste of passion, and there’s no one else she’d want to share that with.

Though they exercise discretion and caution, as can be expected, circumstances happen that seem to only be rectified by a quick marriage.  Emma still holds fast to only wanting to marry for love – though she admits she’s come to love Theo, he’s made no such declaration to her.  Theo comes to realize that he’s also in love, how can he convince Emma, when she believes that he’s only duty driven?

I loved watching the growth of Theo’s character, who, with Emma’s influence changed from a shallow rake to a man willing to embrace his artistic, passionate side.  This required considerable courage, as it means standing up to his father, who berated his talent years ago.  Theo’s care of Emma’s introduction to passion showed him to be a generous and loving man, and their intimacy was steamy and joyful.  Whether in passion, or just in conversation, Emma and Theo have a connection that is rare, and one that is lovely to witness.  THE AWAKENING OF MISS HENLEY is a romantic and enjoyable read, and I’ve no doubt that Emma feels beautiful in Theo’s arms, and IS beautiful to him.    ~Rose

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