In this Regency romance, a carriage crash brings together a reclusive aristocrat with a shady history and a boisterous young woman who has sworn to only marry for love. Fiona Cavendish flees London during a moment of urgent uncertainty in her life. Her brother, Ted, is a soldier in a war on the continent, injured or perhaps even dead, while her controlling, chauvinistic cousin Harry Albrighton pressures her to marry him to secure her inheritance. And while that money will be forfeited if Fiona is not married by her 21st birthday, she has sworn to only wed for love and will not have her hand forced. Fiona’s carriage crashes when caught in thunderous weather, and her rescuer is a most unexpected and unwelcome surprise—Lord Sheffield, Philip Merton. Philip is a notorious figure among the upper class, both a friend-turned–violent rival to Ted and a widower thought to have been the cause of his wife’s death. But the man who cares for her at his Baroque-influenced estate during her recovery does not match his rakish reputation. Fiona’s smart talk and saucy attitude delight the cynical Philip, and the days of slapstick, chivalry, and verbal sparring quickly endear the two to each other, though both struggle to admit it. Price’s novel contains all the enchanting hallmarks of a Regency romance, complete with period-specific terminology, appropriate hand-wringing about reputation and renown, and a love interest/deuteragonist in Philip, with lots of mystery in his past to unwind. There are real frustrations and charm when Philip and Fiona are interacting, but other characters don’t get quite as much attention, to the story’s detriment. Ted, quite alive, waffles between being shockingly thickheaded and incredibly insightful, while Harry, who seems at worst annoying throughout most of the book, suddenly transforms into a mustache-twirling villain with little foreshadowing. Still, there’s plenty of action, from duels to horse chases. And though the romance never gets too spicy, every touch or kiss between Philip and Fiona feels quite breathtaking considering the emotional chasms they had to cross to get there.
A light engaging historical romance with all the necessary historical trimmings
- Kirkus reviews