Jareth Darby was prepared to do just about anything in order to gain the position of estate manager of his family’s property, Cheddar Cliffs. Jareth believed all his problems were solved when his brother offered him the position, since Jared could still maintain his respectability and pride and also participate in the London social scene throughout the year. However, there was a catch – Jareth, a well known rake, had to prove to his brother that he had truly reformed and to do this he had to gain the forgiveness of every woman he had wronged. There were a dozen women in all whom Jareth needed to obtain pardon from, but Jareth is only truly worried about one – Miss Eloise Watkin.
Eloise Watkin never thought she would see Jareth again, and that was fine by her! But when he appeared at a society function, she did the only thing a lady could do – she fainted in his arms! Jareth broke Eloise’s heart when she was just 15 and she has been living the past five years trying to forget him and move on with her life. So when Jareth is suddenly back in London begging for her forgiveness, Eloise is not about to let him get off so easy! She tells him that she will forgive him if he passes three tests to prove his penitence. However, the only flaw with her plan is that along with gaining Eloise’s forgiveness, Jareth is perilously close to winning her heart as well and Eloise is not sure she could bear having it broken again. Jareth soon discovers that despite the tests Eloise has put before him, gaining Eloise’s forgiveness is going to be much easier than winning her heart, and the only way he can be successful is by proving to her that he is “Utterly Devoted”.
Utterly Devoted is a fast paced, light hearted and fun novel that I found delightful. While the premise of a rake being reformed is not new, Regina Scott’s twist at Jareth needing to gain forgiveness for his past mistakes was imaginative. Likewise, Eloise’s tests for Jareth are amusing and keep you reading to see what she will come up with next. Jareth, of course, not only meets the tests successfully, but does so with a sense of humor and a spirit of willingness that endears him to Eloise, and the reader as well.
The cast of characters involved was evidently from several of Regina Scott’s previous novels, but not having read them I wasn’t familiar with the returning characters. However, this did not detract from the story, as previous knowledge was not necessary to follow the plot. All of the characters in Utterly Devoted were realistic and well thought out. I found Jareth charming and worthy of the second chance Eloise granted him. Eloise is also very likeable and intelligent and I appreciated the fact that she listened to Jareth himself before believing gossip regarding him. Sometimes all of the misunderstandings in romance novels can become very tedious!
In all, Utterly Devoted was an enjoyable novel from a talented author I will be sure to make a point to become better acquainted with.