Thursday, March 3, 2011

Review: Swept Off Her Feet by Hester Browne

Swept Off Her Feet
~Hestser Browne

Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Gallery
Publish Date: March 8, 2011
ISBN-10: 1439168849
ISBN-13: 978-1439168844

From Goodreads:
The steps of a charmingly complex dance—Scotland’s famous reel—are at the heart of Hester Browne’s enchanting contemporary novel of two very different sisters whose dreams may come true at a romantic Scottish ball.

Evie Nicholson is in love . . . with the past. An antiques appraiser in a London shop, Evie spins fanciful attachments to Victorian picture frames, French champagne glasses, satin evening gloves, and tattered teddy bears—regardless of their monetary value.

Alice Nicholson is in love . . . with Fraser Graham, a dashing Scotsman whom Evie secretly desires. As crisply neat and stylish as Evie is cheerfully cluttered, Alice is a professional organizer determined to pull her sister out of her comfort zone—and who presents her with an irresistible offer.

As a favor to friends of Fraser’s family, Evie jumps at the chance to appraise a Scottish castle full of artifacts and heirlooms. What could be more thrilling than roaming the halls of Kettlesheer and uncovering the McAndrews’ family treasures—and dusty secrets?

But crossing paths with moody heir Robert McAndrew has Evie assessing what she wants the most . . . and at an upcoming candlelight gala, a traditional dance will set her heart reeling.
Aaaahhhh! Prepare yourselves for a squee-fest! I could not put Swept Off Her Feet down...

Evie Nicholson is an antiques "finder", she actually works for the dealer. Her problem is that she when she sees an item, she sees not the potential buyer, but the past, imagining who used the item or places it's been. She's in trouble with her boss, Max, for buying a bunch of stuff that he doesn't think will sell. Evie's sister, Alice, and her mother are both minimalistic - they actually make a living doing a "clean sweep" type of thing where they de-clutter people's homes. They're always calling Evie out for getting lost in the past.

Evie's sister has a favor to ask - her boyfriend's family friend has inherited Castle Kettlesheer in Scotland and they are having financial trouble keeping it up. They'd like to sell off a few key pieces, quietly, and Alice told them Evie would be happy to do it. Max is thrilled, he's always wanted to get inside Castle Kettlesheer, but he's not invited. Evie must do it alone, and be discreet about it. She's in for a few days, then is supposed to leave before the annual ball, held in the castle on Valentine's Day. Traditionally, if the first dance (a Scottish Reel) is perfect, it's considered a lucky omen and many marriage proposals are made.

Evie meets Robert, son of the current owner, on her first night there. He wants to sell the castle but his father is completely against it. Robert is more realistic and doesn't want to be burdened with inheriting the castle (it must go to the next family member who is married, Robert is not married but is getting pressured to propose to his girlfriend at the ball).

As Evie goes through the home, looking for pieces to sell, she learns a lot about the ancestors of the current owners. Every piece of furniture has a story, and Evie wants to know them all. At Kettlesheer Castle, however, the furniture may have more of a story than she realized...

As Evie works, she also spends time with the owners' son, Robert. As the days go by and they get to know each other, Evie realizes she might be attracted to Robert - who she assumes is going to propose to his girlfriend at the ball. But he's not acting like he's interested in marrying his girlfriend, and Evie has mixed thoughts about that. When Evie's sister Alice calls and says she can't come to the ball, leaving Evie to fill in, Evie wonders if this is Robert's way to get out of proposing - if the first dance isn't perfect, he doesn't have to propose. But maybe, just maybe, that's not the reason he wants her to stay...

My thoughts: Oh wow - I loved this book. Swept Off Her Feet is going on the "keeper" shelf. I love Evie - I easily identified with her character, kind of quiet, unassuming, tender-hearted. She loves looking at old things and imagining the past - a beloved teddy bear, an antique china set, a stately old home. I must confess, that's one of the things I love about living in New Orleans, is the old homes and antiques - I too like to daydream about the people who lived/loved/used them. The relationship between Evie and Robert meanders along, friendly and then maybe more. I really, really liked Robert. His attentions to Evie were swoon-worthy, and that he was conflicted made for some seriously sexy tension.

The Scottish Reel dancing - Evie's lessons were hysterical. The way Ms. Browne wrote the story, the dancing, and the customs surrounding the dance, was riveting. I was so enamored with that part of the story I actually looked up some videos of Scottish Reel Dancing!

Swept Off Her Feet is old-time romance in a modern-day setting - between the romance of Robert's ancestors, continuing through time in family stories, tradition, and the pages of a long-forgotten journal, the romance of the dance, and Evie's romantic outlook on life in general, I sighed and swooned through every page.

Swept Off Her Feet is the kind of book that, when you finish, you don't want to pick up another book because you're not ready to leave the story behind; you just want to stay a little bit longer.

My Rating:

This book was received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


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