Courted by Experience (In Hyacinth #5) by Bree Cariad 1

Celia Compton is thrilled to be back in Hyacinth where she lived until she was eight. A year of courting to meet her prince sounds lovely, especially when combined with loving discipline. Unfortunately, sometimes reality doesn’t quite meet up with fantasy. The man she wants, Marcus Hotham, seems inclined not to court and yet the more she sees him, the more the rest of the guys just don’t measure up.
As Celia learns more about Hyacinth life and gains friendships for the first time in over a decade, it becomes more like home.
When Marcus finally asks to court her, his four-year-old daughter Vanna in tow, she’s thrilled. Everything is perfect, until her mother, who hates discipline and Hyacinth, comes to town and finds out about Marcus. Now, with the possibility of being ripped from the arms of the man she loves, Celia finds herself floundering with how to explain things. When decisions are made and everything comes to light, she just might find that sometimes reality is so much better than fantasy

I’ve gotta get it out of the way right up front – I was surprised by how judgmental Celie’s grandmother was considering that she was part of the Domestic Discipline lifestyle that Hyacinth was founded on. I totally get her wanting the best for her granddaughter, but to summarily dismiss a man as a potential suitor, just because he was a widower and had a child just rubbed me the wrong way. Granted, it gave Celie the opportunity to prove her mettle when it came to following her own path to happiness rather than her grandmother’s when the opportunity to do so arose, which is ultimately what elevated Courted by Experience to a 5-star read for me. But that doesn’t mean I had to like her grandmother’s negativity before she took the time to get to know Marcus and his daughter Vanna.

Celie has returned to Hyacinth to spend the year with her grandparents and to enter the courting system now that she is 18 – a fact she has kept from her mother, who was so opposed to the Domestic Discipline lifestyle that she took Celie and left Hyacinth when her husband died in a car accident over a decade ago. Celie’s childhood memories of Hyacinth and her father, as well as her research into Domestic Discipline have left her longing for her very own suitor and head of household. Unfortunately, the first several dinners are a bust despite her grandmother’s preference for the potential suitors. Fortunately for Celie, her grandfather listens to the things she says and accepts a dinner request from Marcus; he also has no problem taking her grandmother in hand when she lets her best intentions run amok.

I loved watching Celie get to know Marcus and Vanna, appreciating rather accepting that they were a package deal. Because Courted by Experience is an In Hyacinth book and the courting system is designed to lead to a marriage between the two parties, I don’t think it’s really a spoiler to say how much I loved Marcus’s proposal to Celie at the end, especially the exchange between Celie and Vanna that was so freaking sweet that I teared up. Ms. Cariad has given fans another great addition to the series and I’m looking forward to reading Courted by a Knight later this week.

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“Can I have an ice cream, Daddy?”

The voice drew her attention across the street where Vanna Hotham was looking up at her father. As the girl was facing away from her, she couldn’t see her face, but Celie would have been willing to bet money the girl had on the look all girls reserved for their fathers. She had been told by her mother she used to do the same with her own father and he would melt each time.

“Not right now,” he said kindly. “We’re on our way to lunch.After lunch, if you’re still hungry, we’ll get some ice cream.” The little girl nodded and slipped her hand into his. Marcus happened to look up and catch her gaze, his eyes softly crinkling in a smile. “Well, hello, Miss Compton.”

“Celie,” she corrected, smiling back.

“Enjoying Hyacinth?”
“So far, so good,” she answered wryly making him chuckle. “I had best let you two get to lunch. I’m on my way to my grandparents’ house.”
“Have a great rest of the day, Celie. Vanna, can you say hello?” he asked, looking down at his daughter. She moved slightly behind her father’s leg and peeked out, waving. Celia smiled. The girl looked like a cherub.

“It’s good to see you again, Vanna,” she said and the girl disappeared behind her dad.

He sent her an apologetic smile. “She’s shy around people she doesn’t know.”
“That’s okay. I used to be the same way.”
“Daddy, I’m hungry.”
Celie had no doubt it was supposed to be a whisper, but as it travelled across the street, it didn’t come out that way.
 “We’ll go in a second, pumpkin,” he assured her.
“You’d better go. Don’t want a little girl with a growling tummy.”
The smile he sent her made something flutter again in her stomach, but before she could figure out what it was, he nodded. “You are correct. No growling tummies. Would you like to join us?”
Startled, she almost said yes. Until she remembered her Nana’s warning about how a girl in Hyacinth was supposed to act. Going to lunch with a widower was probably against all sorts of rules. “Thanks for the offer, but I’m still filled with coffee.”
A sardonic smile crossed his face quickly before leaving and she had the feeling he knew why she had said no. Feeling the heat enter her cheeks, she was once again glad her skin tone rarely showed it. “All right, Vanna. Shall we go eat?”
“And what do you want?”
The girl’s shout made Celia laugh and he winked at her before lifting Vanna onto his arms and walked down the street.
Bree enjoys good books with great characters. While she may be an adult, her favorite memories are from her teenage years reading inspirational romance with girls just like her and strong heroes. That’s one of the reasons she’s written In Hyacinth, a series of Courting Romances.
Courting Romance – where contemporary romance meets traditional values.

One thought on “Courted by Experience (In Hyacinth #5) by Bree Cariad

  • Bree Cariad

    Thanks so much! I’m glad you enjoyed Celie, Marcus, and Vanna’s story. I’m with you on Vanna’s part there at the end. Made me tear up too 🙂

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