This book has the germs of a good story in it, and less picky readers than me are bound to happily go along with it on that basis. However, it does suffer from one of my pet peeve of historical romance: anachronistic word usage, not to mention that there was the occasional moment when it occurred to me that certain words don’t mean what the author seemed to think they mean. There’s also the odd spot of over-explaining; not quite in the form of ‘as you know, Bob,’ but in the almost as irritating form of ‘she said X, referring to Y’ where Y is something most readers would either know already or be able to figure out from the context. Having got that rant out of my system, let’s move on to the story itself…
Our story opens as Lady Aileen Davidson is preparing to travel from Scotland to London for her first Season, much to the dismay of her younger half-sister, Tara. Aileen needs to marry well in order to secure a comfortable life for them both, since their father gambles away what money he manages to acquire – although he has recently invested some of his winnings in actual horses rather than just betting it on them – and the estate will pass on his death to his brother, leaving the girls homeless. Aileen wants to marry a man as unlike their father as possible – certainly not a gambler – and she wants to fall in love. However, skipping forward nine years, we find Aileen divorced and disgraced, living back on her father’s estate in Scotland after the deaths of both her husband and her lover, and regretting that she will not be accepted at the celebration of her sister’s wedding in London.
Then Tara arrives disguised as a boy, having run away from her father, her husband-to-be, and the wedding. She believes herself to still be in love with her father’s horse-trainer, even though he is about to marry a woman more suited to his status, and she is determined to win him back. Her fiancé, meanwhile, hasn’t given up on the wedding, and soon he and the girls’ father also arrive on the scene. So far so good… Unfortunately, Aileen finds herself undeniably attracted to Tara’s fiancé, Blake Stephens, the illegitimate son of the Duke of Penevey. He’s attracted to her too, but is determined to go through with the original wedding, albeit in Scotland rather than London, and equally determined to overlook Tara’s increasingly scandalous behaviour as she pursues her former love.
I liked Aileen a lot, and really wanted to see her get a happy ending with Blake (in spite of my not entirely being convinced by his name), but Tara just comes across as a total brat to the point of anachronism. Still, judging by the epilogue (one of those that annoyingly serves only as a teaser for the next book in the series, rather than as a coda to the current story), she’s going to get her comeuppance very soon. I’m actually planning to grit my teeth against the anachronisms and unnecessary explanations to read that one, just to see what becomes of her.
A potentially fun read for those who want romance and pretty costumes without any serious history to dilute their historical romance.
Read Liviania’s review here.
New York Times bestselling author Cathy Maxwell returns with a delicious new series, The Brides of Wishmore
What happens when a bride says no?
He is the bastard son of a duke, arrogant, handsome, a little bit dangerous, and, of course, one of the most sought-after bachelors in London. He is also about to be publically jilted by some chit of a girl! Blake Stephens’ pride isn’t about to let him be humiliated, so he charges after his bride to the wilds of Scotland, determined to bring her to the altar.
What happens when the heart says yes?
He is promised to one woman, but discovers his soul stirred by . . . the chit’s sister! Lady Aileen Davidson’s reputation was ruined ages ago, which is why she’s buried herself in the country, but her fiery spirit and bold beauty threaten to bring Blake to his knees, making him wonder if he has proposed to the wrong lass.
And now he must make a choice: marry for honor . . . or marry for love?
Read an excerpt.