Miss Tamsin Tisdale believes herself to be completely unsuitable for London life. After a
myriad of social mishaps, and the potential ruination of her family name, she’s shipped away to her cousin’s northern estate. Only after she accepts the type of existence Society dictates she must follow will she be welcomed home.
Marcus Winston, the Duke of Grayson, has a lackluster reputation. The last in a dying line, he’s endured a protected life—rank with privilege, but encumbered by isolation. After a brief encounter with rebellion, he learns the devastating consequences of his carelessness and willingly accepts living life from inside his gilded cage.
However, a chance meeting with the brazen Miss Tisdale gives Marc the opportunity to reinvent himself into the man he’s always dreamed of being. But when his deception comes to light, and ghosts from both their pasts threaten to unravel the intimacy they’ve come to cherish, will either of them set their fears aside long enough to embrace love? Or will Miss Tisdale’s stubbornness divide them?
Again, Marc was ill-prepared to answer such a question. Taken individually, that large mouth, those plump pink lips, her long nose, red hair, and freckled skin—nothing about her was spectacular by any means. But together, all those odd pieces and parts, which seemed so ordinary at first glance, fit together to form the picture of a particularly stunning woman.
“Yes,” he answered quite simply. No need to give Jason any more fodder for discussion by rambling on like some sort of awful poet.
Jason grinned from ear to ear. “Well, that is quite eventful, indeed.” He swept a crumb off his jacket sleeve. “Does this original have a name?”
Marc stopped suddenly, his coffee halfway to his lips. “Name?”
Jason laughed. “Yes, her name. This unique creature has to have a name. Diana? Aphrodite? Venus, perhaps?” Then Jason stopped laughing as realization spread over his face like a mordant rash. “You don’t know her bloody name, do you?”
Marc set his cup down on the table and stared at it. “She never volunteered the information and I never bothered to ask.”
Publisher and Release Date: Soul Mate Publishing, May 5, 2014
Time and Setting: Regency England
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Level: 2
Reviewer Rating: 4 stars
Last year, I read and enjoyed Compromising Miss Tisdale, the first in the Regency Blooms series, by newcomer Jessica Jefferson. That lovely novel of manners was a charming, funny, and elegant historical romance, and there was one memorable character who stood out in that debut: Miss Tamsin Tisdale, the heroine’s sister. Feisty, strong, and tomboyish, this is her happy ending.
Marcus Winston, the Duke of Grayson is a true beta hero, very reminiscent of Edward Ailsbury in The Secret Mistress by Mary Balogh. Plagued as a child with “the falling disease” (epilepsy), he grew up overprotected by both of his parents, but especially his mother. Consequently, he was educated at home instead of attending boarding school, developed a love of books and learning, and learned to dislike the usual manly pursuits, such as hunting. He’s a quiet man who prefers to blend in rather than stand out, despite his illustrious title. He is a dutiful son and, even though he knows it will not make him happy, he agrees to entertain the idea of courting the waspish Lady Katherine, whom his mother has her heart set for his future duchess. In fact, his mother’s overprotectiveness has begun to feel stifling and, after a youthful rebellion ended in tragedy, he finds it easier to accommodate her. As a result, he has not really enjoyed life at all, and he has never traveled, or even had a pet.
Until Miss Tamsin Tisdale bursts into his sedate (read: boring) life. After meeting her, for the first time in his sheltered life, Marcus wants to throw all caution to the wind. Realising his reputation as reclusive and mysterious might show him in unattractive light, he introduces himself merely as Mr. Winston, cousin to the duke, to get to know her better. This little ruse allows him to be someone else besides a proper and stuffy duke.
Tamsin is the spirited daughter of a viscount and is anything but proper. She accidentally stumbles onto the duke’s estate, Beardsley, during an invigorating morning ride and captivates Marcus with her freshness, vivacity, and directness. He is completely entranced and besotted. She speaks her mind as she did most boldly in Compromising Miss Tisdale and is currently visiting her cousin Elizabeth’s family after being banished to the country for a petty ton scandal. In his breathless descriptions to Jason St. Regis, his best friend, Marcus likens her to a fairy or a sprite with her glorious red hair, freckles, and impish manner, which is completely unaffected, unlike most of the posturing ladies he meets.
Tamsin has no patience for propriety, fashionable dress, or the insincerity of Polite Society. She doesn’t think, she reacts, and this gets her into all kinds of scrapes. But each serves only to make her even more tempting and attractive to Marcus and make the quiet life he has led thus far seem very mundane indeed. I love her unaffectedness; in fact, in one scene, we find her languorously lounging on a chaise, daydreaming, her fingers skimming the floor. In another, Jason mistakes her for a servant!
Marcus and Tamsin’s love story has a joyous quality to it, of young love, of two unlikely hearts finding each other, and of the humor and fun to be had spending time together. Whenever Marcus encounters Tamsin, it is spiced with almost slapstick adventure as well as vivid sexual tension. The best part of their love story is how it takes both of them by complete surprise.
“A small element of danger, a dash of daring, and certainly a feeling of freedom he’d seldom felt before. This was what life with Tamsin Tisdale would be about.” (p208)
There are some wonderfully humorous moments in this romance, such as Marcus’ midnight visit, the bantering between Marcus and Regis, and the way Elizabeth (Tamsin’s ladylike cousin) despairs of her cousin’s unladylike behavior. The writing style is elegant and sparkling and the minor characters, Jason St. Regis, whose own happy ending is hinted at, Marcus’ overbearing mother, and Elizabeth are all well-drawn and characterized. We also discover Tamsin’s unique and very different floral name, hence the name of the series.
If I have one quibble, it’s a minor one. I do not like the cover. The hero looks too old for the heroine and it’s nothing at all like I picture Marcus.
Otherwise, this is a pleasing and amusing love story in a series that I look forward to reading more of.
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About the Author
Jessica Jefferson makes her home in northern Indiana, or as she likes to think of it—almost Chicago. She is heavily inspired by classic sweeping, historical romance novels, but aims to take those key emotional elements and inject a fresh blend of quick dialogue and comedy. She invites you to visit her at jessicajefferson.com and read more of her random romance musings.
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