I haven't read a Judith McNaught book in a very long time and now I remember why. My goodness these books put you through the ringer. Yes I love every minute of it but I really need a break afterwards.
Elizabeth Cameron has barely ever been away from her country home prior to making her debut into society. Unarguably the most beautiful young lady of the ton Elizabeth attracts many suitors as well as the attentions of the most unsuitable Mister Ian Thornton. Elizabeth meets Ian at a weekend house party which is being thrown by one of her friends sisters. The guests at this particular part are a very "fast crowd" and Ian assumes that Elizabeth is far more experienced and knowledgeable than she is. One thing leads to another and Elizabeth and Ian are caught in a very compromising position there is a duel, a big misunderstanding and a two year separation.
Two years later Elizabeth is a social outcast, her brother has disappeared and she has had to sell off almost every possession she had in order to keep her home. Her guardian (her slimy uncle) is sick of footing the bill for her childhood home and sends out letters to all 15 men she had offers from during her season asking them to spend the weekend with her to see if they still "suit." Only three men respond and one of them is Ian. Unfortunately for Ian his secretary mixed up his correspondance and rather than ignoring the letter Elizabeth is offered an invitation to his Scotland home. Of course once Elizabeth arrives it's impossible for her to go back to her Uncle's right away so she must stay and try to fight her feelings for Ian until it is time to leave.
There are very few authors who can make me feel every single emotion that the characters are feeling as well as McNaught. I laughed, I cried, I ground my teeth and punched my pillow in frustration numerous times while reading this book. The weekend party where Elizabeth and Ian first fall in love with one another is probably my favourite part of the whole book. I don't know how to better explain it but I was falling in love with Ian right along with Elizabeth.
Ian is one of my favourite types of hero's - he's older, cynical and although he enjoys women Elizabeth completely turns him inside out... and I believe it. The standard romance scenario where they sleep with one another and its AWESOME and it's never been like that with any other woman before so she must be the one is not what happens here. In Almost Heaven every thing and I mean every little thing Ian does from the moment he first meets her shows that he is completely out of his element where Elizabeth is concerned and although he doesn't understand it - he's going with it.
I also loved Elizabeth - she is a very intelligent and smart girl but she lacks experience and it is understandable how she gets caught in such a compromising position. Over the course of the story you see her grow into a very admirable young woman who is perfect for someone as experienced and worldly as Ian.
Some people may have issues with the book because there are a few big misunderstandings. I love the big misunderstanding plot - as long as it's well done. What does that mean exactly? I don't know but I know it when I read it. The final scene in this book where everything is finally put to rest is so heartbreakingly wonderful to read and it wouldn't be there without the big mis.
I really really loved this book. It's going up on my keeper shelf right beside Something Wonderful, A Kingdom of Dreams and yes - Whitney, My Love.