Full Description: Amazon (the novella is actually sold as a bundle with a second story, but I think it would probably be worth it just for Secret Valentine)
Rating: 5 out of 5
Thoughts After Reading:
Katy Madison's Secret Valentine was an extremely well written novella, with many more layers than I expected. We find out that the heroine became an orphan about the same time she was making her come out. Her guardian should have been the hero's father, but since he was deceased her guardianship was passed on to the hero - a young man not that much older than herself. The hero is a classic gentleman, someone who's handsome, rich, and is loved by society. He was a negligent guardian when the heroine made her come-out - basically dropping her off and going to do what young men do - but not on purpose. He has a very generous nature, and if the heroine ever told him how she felt - that she didn't know how to dance, that she didn't feel comfortable in society - he would have gladly stepped up to the plate. Instead, she basically curls up into a shell. She strengthens her bluestocking tendencies, reading a wide variety of literature. She wears glasses, not because she needs them but because they were her father's and it helps her feel closer to him. She doesn't bother to stop wearing black because she doesn't feel attractive enough to warrant fashionable clothing.
The book opens a few years after the heroine's parents died. The hero and heroine have a gentle camaraderie, and have gotten to know each other much better over the years. The heroine doesn't want to feel like a burden, so she devises a way of earning her own money - by making and selling valentines. She has a secret crush on her guardian, but feels she is the last woman a man like him would ever look at. The hero, meanwhile, has been starting to feel a great deal of desire for the heroine. He casually mentions marriage, but - like so many other heroes, goes about it all wrong. He phrases as it making sense, since the heroine's companions keep leaving and he wants to maintain propriety. The hero also thinks the heroine would make a great wife, between their companionship and his feelings toward her. The heroine, on the other hand, thinks he's making a request out of duty and it only makes her want to work harder at becoming independent. The two dance around it for quite some time, with the hero trying to secretly woo the heroine and the heroine working on her business. It's a very enjoyable storyline to read, and the shorter length of the novella allows the misunderstandings not to last overly long. The book does a particularly excellent job of showing the hero's deep feelings for the heroine, rather than merely telling the reader, and there's some cute tie-ins to Valentine's Day as well. The ending, like the rest of the novella, was quite satisfactory.