Lady Olivia Marlowe, orphaned by her mother several years ago, is left under the care of her stepfather, Lord Barrington. He’s tolerable in many ways and Olivia is willing to tolerate even more – including his arrangement to marry Olivia off to an old, boring English peer in order to create an alliance between the two old families. But her stepbrother, Jeremy, has been hatching different plans. He intends to go to New York to join a business company and finally be his own man. But his employer, Adam Porterfield, had off-handedly mentioned that he was also looking for a British woman to serve as companion to his still-grieving widowed mother, would Olivia play the part and escape to New York with Jeremy?
Adam Porterfield didn’t realize he would be attracted to his mother’s would-be companion. Has hiring Olivia unseen but for Jeremy’s glowing references been a mistake? Adam had never dallied with hired help, even if they were encouraging, but now he seems unable to stop obsessing about his mother’s companion whose comportment befits more of a lady of breeding than a servant. Although Americans were known to be upstarts, there is still the New York society to deal with, especially its wealthy citizens – certainly a match between a servant, no matter how bright and ladylike, and a millionaire would be frowned upon.
Olivia is the stereotypical (at least in romance novels!) English lady. Although unhappy with the prospect of wedding a much older man, she was willing to go through with it as she saw no other alternative… until Jeremy’s proposition. Olivia then became intent in becoming an American, with dreams of independence and freedom. How she was to accomplish that, she’s not sure – but at least she’s no longer under her stepfather’s control and betrothed to an almost doddering old man! She’s admirable in every respect, except for the fact that she trusted her most untrustworthy stepbrother with her mother’s jewels – money that would supposedly help both of them in the New World. It doesn’t quite gel with her character, a young, bright, enterprising lady, wanting to be independent yet relies heavily upon her stepbrother when she could have just kept her jewelry as her means of security. (Okay, to be fair, maybe share at least half the jewelry so she’s not completely selfish nor dependent!)
Adam is also a contradiction, but meant to be so. He’s a ruthless businessman but benevolent to his servants and loved ones – and he’s not above using any means to protect to those he loves! But he’s in no way an alpha hero – it wouldn’t do so being with a woman intent on gaining her independence during the turn-of-the-century New York – it would be too much like Olivia’s stepfather! Instead, he respects Olivia’s decisions and gives her the time and space that she so badly needed - without seeming the pansy!
Willa Hix’s Cheek to Cheek is a well-written romance. Except for some distractions such as Adam’s mother, a transported Brit, referring to Jeremy as “your grace”, it was an enjoyable read. If one can just get over little inconsistencies in address and characterizations (like I did!), the romance of Olivia and Adam is well-worth the time.