I feel like I've been reading a lot of historical romances lately with characters that have awful parents. In this book, Clara has an awful father. He refuses to give custody of Clara's son back to her after the death of her husband. He states it's because he believes she had something to do with her husband's death. She knows that her father wants the house Clara inherited and thinks her father would trade her son for the property. Unfortunately she herself can't give it to him. But if she were to re-marry and give that property to her husband, he could then give it to her father. This is something she is willing to do even though she really doesn't want to get married again. She didn't really like her first marriage. But Clara will do anything to get her son back.
Clara currently is living with her uncle and works in his museum of automata. Sebastian Hall shows up to the museum on an assignment for his brother. He has asked him to inquire about the plans to a machine Clara's uncle might have inherited from a clockmaker. Sebastian is a genius piano player. But something made him quit his most recent gig. Now in London, his father is pushing him hard to marry.
This is not the first time they met. Sebastian tutored Clara for a bit when she was a young woman. Clara put Sebastian on a pedestal, had a huge crush on him. Sebastian was a bit of a rock star. When they meet again, there is an obvious attraction between the two. Clara decides that a marriage of convenience would benefit them both. I liked Clara's straight-forwardness. And I liked the fact that Sebastian comes to trust Clara very quickly, even when he doesn't feel like he can talk to anybody else about why he quit playing the piano.
What I liked most about this book is how much Clara and Sebastian help each other. They do hit some rough spots. Sebastian comes to believe he is less of a man because of the reasons he quit playing piano and that Clara could never love the man he is now. Clara feels like all of her focus should be on her son. But they work really well together, getting past Sebastian's insecurities and getting Clara's son back.
The characters really made this book for me. I very much plan on reading the first book in the series. Looks like the heroine is a smart mathematician. I usually really enjoy smart, geeky heroines in my historicals.
Favorite quote: In music, counterpoint involves independent melodic lines that harmonize when played together," Sebastian explained. "As in our situation, we can now give each other what we desire.
ARC provided through NetGalley.