My review contains spoilers and they're mostly my thoughts as I went with the book...
Sooo, Neighbor from Hell series by R.L. Mathewson used to be one of my favorite series. However, as the years passed, the books became rather difficult to get through, the main family The Bradford’s showcasing the same type of obnoxious males in each. I mean each one of them talked, acted and ate (yes ate, if you’ve read the series you know what I mean) the same way. After a while, honestly, it just got old.
I loved book 1, Playing for Keeps, to bits. It’s where we’re introduced to the male population of the Bradford clan and their legendary eating habits. Oh don’t worry, they have great metabolism so no matter how much they eat, they always keep fit. LOL It also may have something to do with their profession, as they’re construction workers by trade (or so I remember). Playing for Keeps featured Hailey and Jason and was just so adorable and funny that I couldn’t help myself sighing over it. Book 2, Perfection, features Jason’s cousin Trevor and Zoey. I wasn’t as sold in it because Trevor hit a few really sensitive nerve in me with his words and activities. I’d probably show him my middle finger and move on, but he did come around in time and saved the book for me. Zoey was great, though she was too caught up in Trevor’s goodlooks, even when he was being an a$$ of colossal proportions. Book 3, Checkmate, was the story of.................... *cricket* It’s been a while and I didn’t care for the main characters much so I largely have forgotten about this one. The last one I read was book 5, The Game Plan. It was SO BAD that I had an epiphany; that I need to stay away from this series. At least for a while because this book was wayyyy over the top, so ridiculous and repetitive that it wasn’t even funny. It was absolutely irritating, and when it wasn’t, it was boring me to sleep. Needless to say, I didn’t bother doing a review. I think it featured one of Jason’s cousins, again, another Bradford clone who offered me basically nothing.
Now, I skipped book 4, Truce, because I wasn’t sure of the author’s ability to write a historical romance. I know I maybe being a bit pretentious but I live and breathe historical romances. It’s my favorite Romance genre, the first I ever read and I’ve read plenty of amazing authors over the years so I like to think I know what I’m saying. Pleasing me won’t be so easy. However, Truce was WAY better than any other books in the series since #1. It was fun, flirty, sometimes obnoxious (I mean, c’mon we’re talking about the beginning of The Bradfords here!) yet oftimes hilarious… and once again, I found another couple I could adore. I enjoyed Truce far better too, and so glad that I took a chance on it!
Elizabeth isn’t your typical Ton beauty. She’s the youngest daughter of a Lord, though she’d be an heiress on her own terms if she could just become a spinster, 24 yrs. old exactly. And she’s aiming for it, our Elizabeth because she wants independence. After all, all her childhood she’d been tormented by this hellspawn called Robert Lemonade (read and find out why he was named thus :P), the younger son another Lord and friend to her father. Robert and she, oil and water. They hated each-other, made each-other’s lives hell and relished the fact! They were enemies damn you!!
But it’s been 10/12 yrs since Elizabeth has seen Robert. Life moved on, so has she and Robert. She has no idea how he even looked like, until one day, she comes across a handsome stranger in the orangery of the house where a ball was being held. Elizabeth was trying her best to avoid seeing, talking and meeting with people she didn’t care about. Men she had no interest of marrying. She’d rather read a book. My kind of girl! ;) However, the handsome stranger with green eyes does mesmerize her in a way that all of Elizabeth’s thought of being a virgin spinster goes outta brain. She wanted to kiss and touch and......... well, wanted to experience it all with this kind yet mischievous looking man. Which is what they proceeded to do after their introduction of......... I don’t know, an hour maybe? It was a great experience for both. Elizabeth was smitten for sure, though she knew she didn’t want this to go any further than the physical. She still wanted the way she’d planned her future.
Ooook. I was like, dear author, ummm, isn’t this supposed to be, like… a historical romance? Are you forgetting something?? That innocent virgins just don’t jump into bed with strangers on their first meeting? They’re supposed to run the other way! :o
However, the author made me eat my words in the next scenes when they’re both out of the orangery and are being formally introduced. It seems that Elizabeth’s darkest nightmare has come true! She had just slept with Robert Lemonade! Her freakin’ childhood enemy, who it seemed like jumped from charming stranger mode to Robert Lemonade mode the moment they were reintroduced by their mothers. Oh boy, here we go!!!
But you can’t blame Robert, really, since his sobriquet was given by his arch enemy, the little monster he used to despise. He can’t believe that she turned out to be the beauty he came across in the orangery! Of all of the unfairness in the world of cookies and tarts and peanut butters!!! Someone too good to be true. His minx, as he’d already started calling her secretly.WOW, it’s a lot of take in in one day! But Robert would rather die than let her go scott free and not do something to make her life miserable now that he’d come across her once again. Bwahahaha!
Oh well, those wiggly worms of mischief were already creating havoc inside of both Elizabeth and Robert’s brains. They both wanted to make the other miserable right away, nothing surprising there. I mean it was so normal for them that their parents didn’t even bat an eyelash, as didn’t Robert’s older brother James, who was also Elizabeth’s childhood crush. I know it’s over the top, that reaction, but it’s the Bradfords and after your read the series, you simply learn to expect the unexpected, something absolutely obnoxious in a funny way. And let’s not forget again, over the top. The keyword here.
The next chapters of the book gets on with Robert and Elizabeth’s childish pranks, quarrels, Robert’s possessiveness showing... then they quarrel again, say ‘no’ to each-other in everything, but totally ‘yes!’ when it comes to sex. Their chemistry is so good that even these two can’t deny the attraction. And in the process, we only got to see how they were also falling for each-other. I think Robert and Elizabeth were always a bit into each-other, for good or bad. They loved to hate each-other, which turned into love in no time.
But then, Elizabeth finds out she’s pregnant and things take a more drastic turn. She lies to Robert about it because she still didn’t want to part with her independence. But most of all, she knew she had fallen in love with a man she never thought she’d fall for in a thousand years. It was so unthinkable which made Elizabeth extremely confused. And she was sure Robert didn’t care for her that way. I mean, it’s Robert, her arch enemy since the age of 7 (he was 12 at that time I think)! How can she tell him she’s carrying his baby? So what she decides is to sneak away to her own estate that’d she’s supposed to be getting in a few weeks when her birthday is.
However, Robert, in here too, is a step ahead of Elizabeth. He has had servant’s well bribed to report him every single thing about Elizabeth and her pregnancy doesn’t remain a secret from him for long (Thank the Lord!). No matter what, I did think Robert had every right to know about his baby, even though I also understood Elizabeth’s dilemma. I would’ve hated if she ran away because Robert has been head over heels for her since their tryst in the orangery. He was also scared that Elizabeth didn’t love him. Then there was the fact that his parents were seeking a match between her and James.
When their parents set the match between Elizabeth and James in motion, Robert had to step in. He already knew James had no deep feelings for her but her good breeding and the dowry she’d bring in the marriage. He’d keep mistresses on the side, as expected of a peer of the realm. Robert simply couldn’t let it happen. Elizabeth knew James’s mindset as well (I won’t tell you exactly how she became privy to that conversation cause it leads to something much more pleasurable between her and Robert ;) ) so she was about to reject the proposal when Robert becomes... er, Robert Lemonade; an a$$hole who reveals her deepest secret to their families in order to make her marry him. Oh well, I know some found Robert to be insufferable after that. He was, I won’t deny it but Elizabeth was about to turn tail and hide this from him so I wasn’t as annoyed. But I also thought he could’ve handled it better. He did too and acknowledges that he was mad so he messed up big time.
Anyway, the marriage takes place and Robert tells Elizabeth that she would’ve never gotten her inheritance because there were terms and she already broken them. I don’t know how come Elizabeth wasn’t aware of those important terms when she’d been dreaming away about it since she came of age. One of the terms was that she had to marry a peer of the realm or she has to remain a virgin to gain this inheritance. She also must reach age 24, which she was about to in a few weeks. She changed it all when she slept with Robert and there was no way she was going to gain it now. So how was she going to live with a child born out of wedlock without any support of any kind? Robert was still in his Lemonade mode so it causes Elizabeth to become quite ill from the worry and all that stress........ the physician declares she had miscarried the baby.
This changes the whole dynamics of their relationship. Instead of creating a break, it brings them together. Robert becomes a thoughtful, attentive husband overnight because of the guilt and the scare it gave him. Elizabeth was already smitten so it wasn’t as tough for him. Robert was finally trying to woo her in his particular way (LOL) and the whole thing was quite fun to watch. The banters, the silliness of it all and the laughter. I loved reading those pages!
But when the both their families make it their business to step in, citing Elizabeth and Robert needs to be ‘saved from each-other’ (trust me, they were serious, scared that these two would kill each-other sooner or later :|), Robert had to come up with other plans. He knew he couldn’t be in England as it doesn’t hold much for him any longer. He has no estate to look after, no big inheritance waiting for him, James being the heir. And he’s now married to the woman of his dreams. Robert had always wanted to go, venture out in the world... er, well, at least to America. It was his plan until his minx changed the course. He would’ve gladly stayed for her but he also needs to save his marriage from his family! When Elizabeth wholeheartedly agreed with this plan, Robert had no reasons to hold back anymore. They were moving to America, come what may.
The rest of the story was as usual simply fun. I won’t say that there weren’t glitches and plot-holes, among other things, but who cares? I was just laughing at their antics till the end. Good God, I was laughing even when they were having sex (don’t know if it’s a good thing or bad *shrugs*). Anyhoo, just gotta tell you that you have to read it. Truce is an enjoyable, well-enough standalone in the NFH series, however you’d only be able to grasp the total fun if you’ve read a few of the previous installments and have a good idea about the Bradfords and how over the top and silly they can be!
This brings me to my next point, would I be reading book 6 after I got burned in #5? I know it’s about another pair of Jason’s cousins who were featured in book 5. It’s supposed to be a simultaneous storyline (going on at the same time) of that one, so I don’t really know. Will have to ponder upon it. Meanwhile, you check out Truce. 4 solid stars!