Lady Evelyn Mayhew is the younger, spinster sister of the Earl of Dalton. Perhaps her greatest disadvantage in Society is her failing eye sight. However, at the age of twenty-six, Evelyn has well and truly ruined herself when she thought she had fallen in love with her brother’s friend. Over a year later she returns to Society and Evelyn finds opportunity of love with the man who has become the object of gossip.
The Duke of Windermere, Lord George Marsden, finds himself the talk of London after his wife left him for another man. Now scandalously divorced and on the edge of Society, he meets Lady Evelyn. He recognises a woman that has been hurt and George decides to become her knight in shining armour, albeit quite tarnished. The question being, once George finds out Evelyn’s secret, will he accept her or reject her?
Publisher and Release Date: Siren Publishing, May 2015
Time and Setting: Regency England
Genre: Historical Romance Novella
Reviewer Rating: 3 stars
Review by Claudia
Lady Evelyn Mayhew is pretty and in possession of money of her own, but at twenty-six is regarded as being well on the shelf. When she falls in love with her brother’s best friend and gives herself to him, she regards herself as ruined, even though the ton is unaware of her situation. She lives rather on the fringes of society and and gets to know a fellow “wallflower” in the form of George, the Duke of Windermere, who fell from grace because he divorced his unfaithful wife.
To Be By Your Side is an enjoyable novella about two people who are not the kind of protagonists typically found in an historical romance. Both are not completely accepted among society, but try to make the best of their situations. One downside is that the romance starts surprisingly late in the story; almost all the first half is devoted to discovering how Evelyn copes with her mistakes and her broken heart. But that is made up for by the emotional content of the story and by the relationships the author draws between Evelyn and her loving but unconventional family. I especially loved her brother, uncle and cousin as they are warm and loyal people with their own emotional baggage to deal with.
When the relationship between Evelyn and George begins, it is as two fellow outcasts who accept and take pleasure in each other’s company. This soon develops into a sexual attraction and more. I had some – problems may be too strong a word, so let’s settle on misgivings – about that part, as it felt sometimes like an recounting of events and was not underpinned emotionally. I was also rather surprised at the amount of freedom Evelyn had, which is probably not realistic for the time the book is set.
Nevertheless, I liked this unconventional historical romance and I am thinking about reading the next book in this series. If you are looking for a short but gentle read and don’t mind a few anachronisms, To Be By Your Side may be the right book for you.