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An Illicit Engagement - Cecilia Gray As seen on Ed and Em's Reviews!4.5/5 StarsCecilia Gray has captured my heart again with An Illicit Engagement. It is the second novella in a series called The Gentlemen Next Door.This time she gives us the story of a young woman who is desperate to help her father keep his company and his fortune by finding a wealthy, connected husband and her neighbor, a gentleman who has been engaged six times only for the women to end up with a friend, a family member or an acquaintance. While, I have read historical romances where the girl plans to marry out of duty and not love, I have never come across a story where the man has had such horrible luck in finding a bride! (Especailly not an attractive catch like the man in this story, Lucas Willoughby!) The author writes characters that you can really connect with. I may not be from the era that they are, but I can understand their thoughts, feelings and wants. Without that connection, a book can be very hard to read, if you end up reading it at all!Chastity Drummond is a smart, determined character. She knows what she wants and she will get it. She's a very strong female lead. Lucas is bitter and cautious. He does not want to be used. He wants to be loved, not to be used - even if the using isn't purposely done. And he has the stubbornness and determination that matches with Chastity's. They make a fantastic pair!Don't even get me started on how much I love Cassandra. She's isn't a major character in this story, but book three is all hers and I can't wait to read that one!I love that Cecilia includes characters from the first book in the series. When I started this book, I was so hoping she would because I adored Francesca and Phillip! I hope I will see more of Franny, Phillip, Chastitiy and Lucas in book three!This novella is a fast read. I finished it in under an hour, but loved it dearly. It was a nice, light romance that was perfect for a morning with nothing to do. I was bummed that it ended where it did, because I wanted so much more! It ended too quickly for my taste, but I loved the story very much.Cecilia knows her romance. This is the third story of hers that I have read and I assure you it will not be the last. I don't know how she does it, but she manages to keep my attention and make me fall in love with her characters. Every. Single. Time. Especially her brooding, dutiful men!