This is the author's first book and it shows. There were many times where I had to roll my eyes, by I always did so with a smile, too. There's alot of cliche moments, especially concerning the dialogue, and her descriptions of love. Rather than feeling the couples were in love I was immediately told they were. It was rather anticlimactic how quickly everyone paired up. It lacked the subtlety and craft that I KNOW Hooper does well in her later works. Despite this I was able to enjoy the story, because Hooper manages to sell it convincingly, if not expertly. Also, another reason I might have enjoyed this more than I should have was the constant echoes of Georgette Heyer. The plot points resemble many of Heyer's, and even the names were very familiar (Ware, Standen). I had fun playing a kind of "Where's Waldo?" with all the Heyer references. The Regency staples were there, but the story does take quite a few liberties in terms of historical attitudes. While the characters may not have been incredibly unique or completely fleshed out, they were endearing all in their own ways. The mystery too, is somewhat simplistic, and somethings are a bit unanswered, (ie the purpose of the missing ring) but, those can be forgiven if what you're really after is a light short sweet read.
Edit: read the short story "Masquerade" at later date
I had to give the novel another star because I liked this short story so much better than the novel it accompanies. It's another Regency, this time with a misunderstood rogue and an independent minded woman stuck together by random circumstance (the weather). It is both a sweet and intense romance that plays out predictably but enjoyably. I'm not crazy about HEA's but Masquerade does it just right. This is no insult to the romance in the book, but my favorite part of the story is the politics of the servants and the minutiae of manor life. I really like those kind of details in my historical fiction. This book is worth buying for the short story alone, imo.