Miss Violet Knowlton knows the dangerous boy she watches in secret from her window is someone a proper young lady should avoid. Yet temptation overcomes her. Kit scoffs at her offer of friendship -- until, slowly, her innocent trust opens a door to a world he's never known . . . a world where Kit can break off the shackles of his shameful past.
Then Kit disappears from Violet's life. Lost, she dedicates the next decade to becoming a true lady, only to have her world turned upside down one night at a ball in London. There she encounters a handsome and celebrated sword master -- and recognizes him as her childhood friend. Soon the flames of their forbidden past reignite into a passion neither of them can refuse.
Kit can no more resist his first love now than he could years ago. But she's been promised to another. Sworn to protect her, he vows that he will also find a way to possess her . . . no matter what stands in his way.
Good story of childhood friends reunited and the love that grows between them. Violet is an orphan being raised by her aunt and uncle. They are overprotective but loving. One day she sees Kit in the churchyard practicing swordfighting and is drawn to him. She is quite naive and doesn't understand anything about his background and current circumstances of living in the local workhouse, but she offers her friendship anyway. She, Kit and two other friends have a wonderful summer of adventures, until Kit disappears. Violet misses her friend, but goes on to follow her aunt's dictates and devote herself to becoming a lady.
Ten years later she is engaged to a local businessman who appreciates her ladylike behavior and looks forward to her ability to help his business. He's not terribly exciting as a fiance, but her aunt approved of him. Then, while attending a ball that also has a fencing demonstration as entertainment, she sees the sword master everyone is talking about and recognizes him as her old friend. They dance together and attraction flares between them. But Violet is engaged to someone else and while Kit feels bad at the idea of taking another man's woman, his feelings won't be denied.
I liked both Violet and Kit. I liked the fact that Kit's background never mattered to Violet, that she saw him for the boy, then man, that he was. Even though she's engaged to Godfrey, her feelings for Kit are strong and she knows that she can't go through with marrying Godfrey. She just has to find a way to break things off with him and tell her aunt that she doesn't want the man her aunt picked out for her. I liked the way that she was concerned for her aunt's feelings but wasn't going to let them stop her from being with Kit. There are some very good scenes where they meet up and catch up on what has happened in their lives, and feel their desire for each other increase.
Kit was taken from the workhouse and sold to a man who adopted him and treated him as his own son. That man trained Kit as a sword master, and Kit has spent the last few years teaching people the art of the sword. He is also an honorable man who places great importance on doing the right thing. He is stunned to see Violet at the ball where the members of his fencing academy are performing. After the dance they share together he realizes that he has loved her for years and wants her to be his. His honor makes it difficult for him to reconcile taking Violet away from her fiance but she is his. It doesn't help that her fiance is also one of his students. I enjoyed seeing Kit doing the work he loves and how it shows the type of man he has become.
I loved seeing Violet and Kit together as they admit their feelings for each other and try to find a way to get their lives together. I also enjoyed seeing how their friends also tried to throw them together. The secondary characters were also well done. I liked the way the marchioness and Violet became friends so quickly, and how her past helped Violet see that there was no shame in her feelings for Kit. I also liked seeing Winnifred the governess and how she and Kit had remained in contact. She had also done a lot of changing in the last ten years and I loved seeing those changes. One of the best characters was Violet's aunt Francesca. Her protectiveness of Violet was ultimately explained. I enjoyed seeing the way she herself changed over the course of the book, as she learned more about the man she had approved and then saw Violet with Kit. Violet's fiance Godfrey was rather stuffy and definitely a snob. He didn't really care about Violet herself, just saw her as another tool for his business plans. I had started to feel a little sorry for him until his actions at the end, then I was happy to see him lose out.
I liked seeing Kit and Violet get their happy ending. There wasn't too much working against them getting together, so it wasn't too hard for them to overcome. I enjoyed seeing two characters who were closer to ordinary people rather than being of the aristocracy. It made a nice change.
The other two friends from Violet's childhood foursome were also there as adults. I liked Eldebert and the way he had matured into a good man. It was nice seeing him looking out for Violet, especially at the end. Ambrose had been a real pain when they were kids and he wasn't much better as an adult. I didn't like his initial plans for the house party he was giving and had high hopes that something would change his mind. There was also a fencing student of Kit's that had other plans for Kit than learning from him. I felt like that confrontation could have been more intense, but it was okay.