Publisher and Release Date: Entangled Publishing December 2012
Everyone knows William Bredon, the earl of Pembroke, has a reputation as a captivating rogue, determined to never marry until his duty to produce an heir requires it. So when he invites Lady Hannah Rochester to dance, Hannah vows to keep her distance. But the undeniably gorgeous William, with his dark humor and seductive gaze, draws her in nonetheless. Of course, Lady Hannah is not completely what she seems, either. A member of the dowager Lady Lancaster’s Garden Society, she secretly spends her days solving mysteries and uncovering intrigues, and when she brings William into the fold, a sinister plot develops that brings the two closer together. William’s protective nature ensures he remains by Hannah’s side, but he will not surrender his anti-marriage stance. Can intrigue, passion, and maybe even a little bit of scandal reform the most notorious of rakes?
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Rating: 2
Review Rating: 4 stars
REVIEW BY ANITA
Lady Lancaster’s Garden Society gathers ostensibly to exchange gardening tips, but is more an informal detective agency where the ladies help those in trouble by gleaning information discreetly from the drawing rooms of high society.
I liked the premise of this story, even if the first few pages contain a lot of names to get to grips with as the characters cavort around a ballroom. The narrative also jumps into omniscient point of view which can be confusing if you are used the current trend of writing in a specific ‘head’, but I got used to it.
Lord Shrewsbury is determined to marry Hannah, whose title and dowry are just as attractive as her person and he doesn’t care how he goes about it, or that Hannah herself is repulsed by him. When his attempt at compromising her doesn’t work, Shrewsbury reveals he has some information which will ruin her brother, David -information he will keep to himself if Hannah becomes his bride. When she discovers William Bredon, Earl of Pembroke’s brother is also involved and under threat, the two join forces.
Jaded by the idea of marriage by his parent’s unfortunate union, William is thus eager to avoid the institution, however he is not slow to offer himself as rescuer when Hannah is being harassed by the said bounder at the ball.
William and Hannah enlist the Garden Society members, and, inevitably, William’s aversion to marriage is banished by Hannah’s charms. However I was a little confused that William seemed to know all the details about what David is mixed up in without any clear explanations.
This story isn’t wildly dramatic, but the villain is suitably odious, the hero charmingly reticent but strong and capable, and the leading lady feisty and characterful. Some of the antics and conversations are well crafted and quite funny, and the ending is delightfully satisfactory – as an historical romance, this novel ticks all the boxes.
On a less complimentary note, the tone is too modern, and although the word ‘ton’ is sprinkled liberally throughout the narrative I kept having to remind myself it was set in early 19th Century. The villain’s name is Caleb – not one I have ever encountered in Regency England before, especially among the aristocracy – but what do I know, and terms like ‘body language’, ‘taking the man out’, and ‘powers of observation’ were used, which I felt belonged in a different time.
Then there is the moment Hannah takes proper notice of William, describing him as ‘downright mouth-wateringly gorgeous.’ Really? In the early 1800’s? And his opinion of her is that, ‘She is just so damn cute.’ – he’s supposed to be an English lord!
This is a sweet romance but there is a sex scene, where Hannah tells the reader she has never seen a nude man before, but then she gasps in panic and declares ‘it won’t work’- How? What is her basis of comparison? And William isn’t that much of a gentleman either, bedding Hannah before they are even engaged let alone married. – The cad!
Villain Caleb turns up at the end to spoil things and Hannah manages to escape his clutches by blowing a two-fingered whistle so loudly he lets go of her – most unladylike – the author running out of plot devices there I think – but I was glad Hannah wasn’t stabbed by Caleb whose ‘intense ice blue eyes and butter-blond hair’ was sinister to say the least.
If you like sweet romances with delightful characterisation and dialogue, you will enjoy this book. But if you are a stickler for historical accuracy you may find some parts annoying.
Anita Davison is a Historical Fiction Author whose latest release, ‘Royalist Rebel’ a biographical novel set in 17th Century England released by Claymore Press under the name Anita Seymour