Secrets, scandal, and passion…
Selina Rosewall had given up on love, but while helping her brother further his merchant fleet business, she meets Sir James Mitchell, Lord of Penventen. Their attraction is mutual, but what James wants from the relationship goes further—much further—than Selina could have expected. And she learns that in the world of the Ton, scandal and deceit are commonplace.
For Sir James Mitchell, Lord of Penventen, it’s hard to say which is more dangerous: being a spy or being considered husband material by the Ladies of the Ton. With political machinations threatening to draw England into the violent wake of the French Revolution, the last thing James expected was to fall in love with Selina Rosewall, daughter of an untitled seafaring family. But when James’ investigation stirs up a hornet’s nest, can he protect Selena from danger that threatens her very life?
Publisher and Release Date: Etopia Press, October 16, 2013
Time and Setting: 1790 England and France
Genre: Romantic Historical Fiction
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer rating: 4.5 stars
Review by Maria Almaguer
This solidly written début is extremely rich in historical description, firmly placed in its time period and setting, and brimming with vibrant characters, mystery, and intrigue amid the dangers of a world rife with the tension of impending revolution.
Selina Rosewall no longer wishes to be a burden to her beloved brother, William, and his wife and growing family, so she determines to find a position to support herself as either a governess or a lady’s companion if she can’t find a husband. Then she meets James Mitchell, the handsome and dashing Lord of Penventen, and her life changes forever. She becomes lady’s companion to his grandmother, the feisty and outspoken Lady Margaret, a strong-willed woman who encourages Selina’s relationship with her grandson.
James has many secrets, his own questionable origins, a broken engagement with a ruthless and beautiful woman intent on blackmail, and a dangerous assignment as a spy in averting revolution. He falls in love with Selina’s sweetness, strength, and genuineness and longs to make her his wife.
This novel is a delight for history lovers, as real life people are characters here, including abolitionist William Wilberforce, the comte de Mirabeau, and prime minister William Pitt, to name only a few. Gorgeous descriptions of everything, including church architecture, fashions of the day, tempting offerings on a breakfast table, a glittering dressing table box, and discussion of great political works by Edmund Burke and Thomas Paine abound in this début. Not even the dark side of history is avoided with a poignant and intense discussion of the horrors of slavery.
The love story between Selina and James is a parallel plot here, as prominent or maybe even slightly less important than the intrigues of espionage and treason. Still, the romance is a sweet love story of honor and devotion. There is some passion and sensual love scenes but I still felt most of the story was about avoiding imminent revolution, not whether these two would get together. It was just a matter of working out the rest for the pieces to fall into place.
I really enjoyed how Selina’s knowledge of ship’s logs, her solid command of the French language, and her skill as an artist were of value to James and his mission; I especially liked how he encouraged her assistance despite the fact that, at this time, women’s contributions were deemed unimportant. I understand that politician John Adams and his wife, Abigail, also had this equal partnership of a marriage and Selina and James’ egalitarian relationship reminded me of that.
If you loved Donna Thorland’s The Turncoat, you will enjoy this elegant romantic novel of political intrigue.