Saturday, November 8, 2008

Review: Let Me Be The One

Title: Let Me Be the One
Author: Jo Goodman
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: Compass Club/Book One

North. South. East. West.
Friend for life, we have confessed.
All other truths, we'll deny,
For we are soldier, sailor, tinker, spy.
--Compass Club Charter

Hambrick Hall

They were four friends, finding each other and bonding at the boarding school where they all attended. The bonds of friendship stayed, only strengthening with time, through school and into adulthood. Through adventures and through war. And now they are considered eligible bachelors of the ton but none of them have any desire to settle down with a wife just yet. Of course, that's when the unexpected happens and all thoughts of continuing as a bachelor fade, at least for one of this group of friends. As he catches sight of her he knows what he as been asked to do but it becomes so much more after they meet. Then he slowly realizes that there is more to her than meets the eye. More to her than even he suspected. For North, his adventure has just begun.

Jo Goodman has long been a favorite of mine. She has written many historical romances and her Compass Club series is, in my opinion, one of the best. I had read the series when it was first released and found that I enjoyed it just as much when reading it for the second time. The first book in the series tells of Brendan David Hampton, Earl of Northam, North's story and his heroine, Elizabeth Penrose.

North and Elizabeth first meet at Battenburn, the country estate of the Baron and Baroness of Battenburn. Elizabeth is staying with them at the estate and assists with the running of the household for Louise, the Baroness. All four of Compass Club members are present when North first approaches Elizabeth and requests that she walk with him. In fact, as they enjoy doing, the remaining three members South, East and West discuss whether North will be married by the end of the year. South and West go so far as to make a wager on the outcome. This is by no means the first of many wagers for the group and no doubt will not be the last. They are a very close group of men, fitting so well together. Complementing each other with their differences and similarities to form one unified group.

When Elizabeth first encounters the Compass Club she is on the lawn at Battenburn painting a still life. She hears their laughter:

"It was pure pleasure to hear their laughter. Unrestrained, it had almost a musical quality to it. Four voices, all of them with a slightly different pitch, gave it a certain harmony." page 13

This first glimpse Elizabeth has of the four men is so telling in what they are to each other, how well they fit together. While this story is of North and Elizabeth's road to HEA it is also about the strong bond of friendship these four men have.

There are of course difficulties along the way for North and Elizabeth. There is the Gentleman Thief who has been plaguing the ton and stealing their jewels. There is also the reason for North's initial interest in Elizabeth. He had been asked to check on her by her mother's cousin, Colonel Blackwood. North and the other members of the Compass Club have a history with the Colonel and hold him in high regard. North soon realizes that he has more than just a passing interest in Elizabeth.

It turns out that North is accused of theft and Elizabeth provides his alibi. Still keeping secrets from one another they are forced to marry. Their marriage is not a smooth one with the one place they do get along is in bed. While Elizabeth dare not trust North with her secrets, she eventually trusts him with her body. The love scenes are quite steamy when North and Elizabeth follow through on their mutual attraction.

Elizabeth is a very multi-layered heroine which was a pleasant surprise. I enjoyed trying to figure her out. What motivated her, what exactly made her tick. I wasn't the only one. North spent time trying to understand Elizabeth as well. She is much more than a twenty-six year old spinster, working as an unpaid companion to Baroness Battenburn. She has a variety of interests and is called a blue-stocking by many of the ton. She does have a strained relationship with her father but is good friends with her step-mother who is close to her in age. Her father is considered formidable and intimidating and not at all easy to please.

North was not about to be intimidated by Elizabeth's father or by Elizabeth herself. North is the type of hero who once he decides what he wants, or in this case who, he goes after her until he gets her. He is a good listener and shows that he truly care about Elizabeth's opinions and how she feels about the issues of the day. South, East and West also fall under the spell of Elizabeth but it is North who she can't help but want. North is torn in two with trying to love Elizabeth but also getting her to trust him with her secrets. He slowly figures out some of them but is not prepared for what she finally reveals.

This was a wonderful and engaging read. It held my interest to the very end. I look forward to doing a re-read of the remaining books in the series. I believe Let Me Be the One is currently out of print but can be bought used in various places. The other titles in the series are: Everything I Ever Wanted ~ South's story, All I Ever Needed ~ East's story and Beyond a Wicked Kiss ~ West's story. Goodman's site and information regarding this series and her other books can be found here.

Rating: A


  1. While I had read a number of Jo Goodman books, this series was the one that really made me sit up and take notice of this author. I love the Compass Club series too and it's great to see your review here!!

  2. Hi Kristie ~
    The Compass Club and the Dennehy Sisters are some of her best IMO. I can still remember waiting for each sister's story to be released. Loved that series!