WALTZ WITH A STRANGER by Pamela Sherwood

Blurb:

“May I have this dance?” Aurelia wasn’t hiding exactly. She just needed to get out of the crush of the ballroom—away from the people staring at her scar, pitying her limp. She was still quite enjoying the music from the conservatory. And then a complete stranger—dashing, debonair, kind—asked her to waltz. In the strength of his arms, she felt she could do anything. But both would be leaving London soon…

When they meet again a year later, everything has changed. She’s no longer a timid mouse. And he’s now a titled gentleman—with a fiancée. Is the magic of one stolen moment, one undeniable connection enough to overcome a scandal that would set Society ablaze and tear their families apart?

RHL Classifications:

Gilded age

Heat Level 1

Rating 4 Stars

REVIEW BY LADY BLUE:

This story takes place in London,  1890-1891, at a time when wealthy American heiresses were travelling to England with hopes of landing a titled husband.  The ton generally scorned these ladies, but tolerated them.  Impoverished gentlemen actively sought them.  Twin heiresses, Aurelia and Amelia (Amy) are no exception.

The twins are beautiful, but Aurelia was in a riding accident and suffered some scarring to one side of her face, and a leg injury causing her to limp.  It also caused the man she expected to propose to abandon her, so aside from the physical injuries, she is very fragile mentally.  At London balls, she generally acts the wallflower, and allows her vivacious sister, Amy, to bask in the limelight.

At one particular ball, untitled James is attending only because it’s a betrothal ball for a relative.  He sees Amy and is smitten by her loveliness, but does not approach her, as he has no title, and is not interested in marriage.  He escapes the ball, and encounters a young lady enjoying the music out by herself.  At first he thinks it’s  Amy, but realizes it’s not.  This lady is thin, scarred, and shy.  She introduces herself as Amy’s twin, Aurelia.  James, being kind, invites her to waltz right where they are, away from the limelight.  After the dance, James is summoned back to the ball, and they part.

Aurelia is inspired by this encounter, and decides it’s time to rejoin the living.  She decides to journey to a clinic for rehabilitation, and then to travel.  During this period, her leg improves greatly.  She learns to style her hair to minimize the scar.  She gains some of her lost weight, and regains her sparkling personality.  After almost a year, she returns to London.  In the back of her mind is the thought that she may encounter James again, and hopes to further their acquaintance, as she was very attracted to him.

But things change in a year.  James has unexpectedly inherited a title, but no wealth to go with it.  Amy expected a proposal from a duke’s heir, but he was only toying with her.  So, James and Amy decide to make a match of it.  Neither pretends love for the other, but they do share a mutual liking, and marriage would fulfill both their needs.  So, as Aurelia returns, full of hope, she is introduced to her sister’s fiancé, James, her waltzing partner of a year ago.

As the engagement progresses, James and Aurelia are much thrown into each others company.  It becomes very clear that James is engaged to the wrong  twin.  He and Aurelia have much in common and fall in love.  But what can be done?

Unlike many stories, the twins are both good, loving people.  They will do anything not to hurt each other.  James and Aurelia are so honorable, I almost couldn’t stand it.  It seems that despite their deep love, there may not be a happy ending for them.  Or, will there?  They certainly have to work hard for it.  A recommended read.

This book will be released December 4.  The paperback costs $6.99, kindle edition $5.94

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