From the Blurb:
A reckless infatuation nearly ruined Lady Alice Cathcart-Ross in her youth, but from the moment she spies Elijah Philemon Keating scaling a rock face without a rope in sight, the man awakens her long-buried desire. Alice has come to the high Alps in search of a mountaineer, and in Elijah she finds the guide of her dreams.
Though Elijah is known as one of the greatest explorers of the age, a tragic accident has destroyed his taste for adventure and society. Elijah can't deny his attraction to Alice, but he resolves to avoid the entanglement that could accompany it. He promises Alice one week in the Alps, and no more.
Alice agrees, valuing her independence above all else. But as the heights they climb by day are overshadowed by the summits of passion they reach at night, these vows become harder and harder to keep…
Lady Alice is a botanical artist who wants to explore the flora of the Alps. She is an independent woman with no intention of developing any romantic entanglements, but when she meets a young, gorgeous man who calls himself Eli, she becomes overwhelmed by desire and can't help but invite him into her hotel room ... no matter how improper the arrangement might be. To Alice's surprise the next day, Eli is no other than E.P Keating, a famous adventurer and her guide to the Alps. What was meant to be one night of abandon quickly becomes an extended dalliance as they explore the Alps and each others' bodies, while attempting to maintain their independence.
I really like Alice as a main character. She doesn't pussy foot around like so many heroines, but goes after what she wants. At the same time, she has rational concerns about her desires - not least of all the concern of getting pregnant and being left with a child and no protector. Not that she lets these concerns stop her, but rather explains them to Elijah, who makes sure they don't get in the way of their affair.
As for Elijah, well he's gorgeous. Both protective and sweet, Elijah teaches Alice how to traverse the alps (and that sometimes it's ok for a lady to be scantily clad in the name of safety) as well as the intimate side of sleeping in a tent. We learn that Elijah is a little damaged from his past, unwilling to form many social relationships, but he falls hard for Alice.
I loved the development of the relationship between Alice and Elijah. As much as I understand the passion and heat that can be established so well in romances in response to a mutual dislike or disagreement, when a story can develop as much (if not more!) passion between a hero and heroine who actually like, respect and respond fondly to each other from the beginning, well, that's a rare treat. I thought the mutual understanding between these two hyper-independent characters, as well as their mutual uncertainty about developing entanglements, was really well done. I found them very relateable and fell in love right along side them.
One of the more unusual aspects about this historical romance is certainly the setting. I love historical romances, but it can sometimes seem to be one ball and grand estate after another, while in Improper Arrangements, our hero and heroine were exploring the great outdoors. I did wonder whether it was entirely plausible for a single lady and man to be wandering the Alps alone without anyone to chaperone, but this was explained in the story and Alice's personality didn't leave much up to debate. Plus, I've learned not to question the behavior of characters falling in love and, after all, this is a tale of improper arrangements.
I recommend this story to anyone who likes a good historical romance with sexy, no nonsense characters and a nice change of scenery.
Improper Arrangements by Juliana Ross was published by Carina Press on November 11, 2013 and is available from Amazon.
This book was given to Love Reading Romance in exchange for an honest review.