Review by Lady Wesley
This second installment in Laura Lee Guhrke’s Dear Lady Truelove series features the younger sister of Irene Deverill, the heroine of book one, The Truth About Love and Dukes. Clara Deverill is shy and retiring, the polar opposite of her sister who is off on her wedding trip with the Duke of Torquil. Irene – a take-charge, energetic, and quite progressive woman for her time – has been running the family-owned newspaper, The Weekly Gazette, and writing its most popular feature, the “Dear Lady Truelove” advice column. Irene has left Clara in charge, and Clara is sure that she is not up to the job, her only experience having been as a stenographer to Irene. Moreover, Clara is feeling bullied by the paper’s gruff editor and abandoned by her brother who is supposed to be back from his travels in America to take over the running of the paper.
Faced with a looming deadline, Clara fights panic and escapes to a neighborhood tea shop, where salvation presents itself in the form of two gentlemen conversing at the next table. Lionel is being pressured by his merry-widow mistress to marry her, but he isn’t sure that he wants to. His friend comes up with a ruse that Lionel can use to hold out the possibility of marriage without actually promising anything. Lionel should suggest ending the relationship, as he hasn’t the funds to support a wife.
“Remind her of that and suggest—gently—that perhaps the two of you should go your separate ways? You don’t want to do it, of course, because you’re wild about her, and you can’t sleep or eat for wanting her, and your nights with her are the most amazing thing that’s ever happened to you, but for her sake, you feel you must tear yourself away.”
As Lionel’s companion acts out the scene, he is confident that Lionel’s lady-love will then realize that it’s better to keep their relationship as is rather than giving up the man she loves. Clara is incensed by what she overhears and uses the next Lady Truelove column as a means of warning the lady, indeed warning all ladies about the duplicitous nature of men.
A few nights later, Rex Pierpont, Viscount Galbraith, dances with Clara at a ball; he thinks she looks familiar, but he cannot place her and Clara assures him that they have never been introduced. Then Lionel shows up, punches Rex in the face, and accuses Rex of ruining his love life. When Lionel shows Rex the Lady Truelove column and he sees their conversation reproduced almost verbatim, he makes the connection and realizes that he saw Clara in the tea shop. Rex visits Clara’s office in high dudgeon and threatens to expose her secret identity as Lady Truelove. Clara surprises herself by standing up to him, with the result that they develop a surprising plan that suits them both: a fake courtship.
This arrangement suits Clara because she would like to get married and have a family, but her shyness and lack of presence make it difficult for her to meet gentlemen via the traditional marriage mart. If a handsome, titled man like Rex shows interest in her, then other men will as well. Rex has no desire to marry, but his father has cut off his allowance, and he hopes that if he is seen as seeking a bride his father will restore it. Moreover, his beloved Aunt Petunia, who has been supporting him, would dearly love to see him marry.
Those of us who regularly read historical romance have seen the fake courtship plot before, but Ms. Guhrke pulls it off quite adeptly, primarily because she takes the time to develop the characters so that the reader comes to like and understand them. We see how Rex’s selfish, feuding parents have soured him on the notion of marriage, and we come to know him as a basically honorable, caring man. He finds Clara to be adorable and authentic, so different from the typical society girls, and it’s quite lovely how he helps her spread her wings and learn to fly out from under her older sister’s shadow. Although the two are immediately attracted to one another, the love story plays out slowly and deliciously.
I was not enamored of the first book in this series, but The Trouble With True Love was engaging and fun to read, and I can wholeheartedly recommend it to readers who enjoy character-driven romances that don’t resort to silliness or big misunderstandings.
“Well, well,” he murmured, “with every look and every word, the little lamb with the big brown eyes proves she’s not as defenseless as she first appears.” Clara felt a spark of frustration at his description. She might be plain and possess a shy, quiet disposition, but she was not some helpless, dependent creature.
“Is that what I am?” she asked as they turned in a circle, moving in the steps of the dance. “A little lamb?” She opened her eyes deliberately wide. “And I’m lost in the woods, I suppose, and you’ll come save me?”
“Save you? I doubt it.” His gaze lowered, pausing at her lips. “Ravish you would be a sight more likely.”
Clara’s heart gave a panicked thud, slamming into her ribs with such force that it broke her concentration. She trod on his foot, lost her balance, and would have stumbled, but he caught her, letting go of her hand to wrap his arm around her back.
“Careful,” he murmured. “Dance with me much longer and you’ll be in danger.”
“You warn me, Lord Galbraith, but I cannot help wondering why.”
“You’re in my arms.” He pulled her a fraction closer. “Make no mistake, my lamb. You are in very great danger.”
Enter to win one of two (2) print copies of The Trouble With True Love – CLICK HERE
TERMS & CONDITIONS: Open to US shipping addresses only. Two winners will each receive a paperback copy of The Truth About Love and Dukes by Laura Lee Guhrke. This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of Avon Romance. Giveaway ends 2/20/2018 @ 11:59pm EST. Avon Romance will send the winning copies out to the winner directly. Limit one entry per reader and mailing address. Duplicates will be deleted.
About the author
Laura Lee Guhrke spent seven years in advertising, had a successful catering business, and managed a construction company before she decided writing novels was more fun. A New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Laura has penned over twenty historical romances. Her books have received many award nominations, and she is the recipient of romance fiction’s highest honor: the Romance Writers of America RITA Award. She lives in the Northwest with her husband (or, as she calls him, her very own romance hero), along with two diva cats and a Golden Retriever happy to be their slave. Laura loves hearing from readers, and you can contact her via her website: www.lauraleeguhrke.com. You can also find Laura at: Facebook * ~ * Twitter * ~ * Goodreads * ~ * Amazon
Publisher and Release Date: Avon, January 2018
Time and Setting: Victorian England
Heat Level: 2
Genre: Historical Romance
Dear Lady Truelove,
I am a girl of noble family, but I am painfully shy, especially in my encounters with those of the opposite sex . . .
For Clara Deverill, standing in for the real Lady Truelove means dispensing advice on problems she herself has never managed to overcome. There’s nothing for it but to retreat to a tearoom and hope inspiration strikes between scones. It doesn’t—until Clara overhears a rake waxing eloquent on the art of “honorable” jilting. The cad may look like an Adonis, but he’s about to find himself on the wrong side of Lady Truelove.
Rex Galbraith is an heir with no plans to produce a spare. He flirts with the minimum number of eligible young ladies to humor his matchmaking aunt, but Clara is the first to ever catch his roving eye. When he realizes that Clara—as Lady Truelove—has used his advice as newspaper fodder, he’s infuriated. But when he’s forced into a secret alliance with her, he realizes he’s got a much bigger problem—because Clara is upending everything Rex thought he knew about women—and about himself. . .