I was intrigued by this book being about a romance between an estranged married couple and set in the Regency era. I have heard of this author’s Scottish Romances and they were touted as really good so when I saw this one even though it’s not Scottish, I thought that I’d give it a try.
The story opens with a prologue where the hero, Edmond the Earl of Ramsbury, discovers that his estranged wife has been writing to his mother for money. He goes haring off to Bath to put a stop to it.
Meanwhile in Bath, Sybil, Lady Ramsbury, has remained apart from her husband for the last sixteen months and takes care of her eccentric father’s household. She broke with her husband after discovering him with another woman, Lady Fanny Mandeville who was his mistress for a time. She also left because all they seemed to do was fight because both wished to be in charge.
Edmond’s accusation about the letters infuriates Sybil and finding her in the company of another man infuriates him. They spend a great deal of time lashing out at each other and not really listening. But with the help of friends and Ned’s family along with Ned’s own unaccountable actions, Ned and Syb slowly, but surely begin to iron things out. Circumstances interfere in the form of the conniving Lady Fanny and Sybil’s crazy family and soon their chances of reconciliation are up in the air again when they can’t agree on how to deal with matters. Sybil is constantly trying to go off and go it alone to get matters accomplished, but just ends up stirring up more mischief. Unfortunately, someone in the shadows is plotting too.
This book has me ‘at sixes and sevens’ which is slang for an air of confusion back in Regency times. I liked bits and I disliked bits. The good news is that the author’s writing style, the Regency backdrop, some of the characters and the dialogue were wonderful. I will definitely be reading more from this author and I dare say more of this series because one of my favorite characters appears in the next book as the hero.
But- yes there is a but. I was less than impressed with both the hero and I down right disliked the heroine. The hero, Edmond, was pompass and overbearing though I can’t blame him for losing his temper with his lady. Truthfully, I can’t understand what he saw in her. As for Sybil, she came across as childish, petulant, spoiled and selfish. She runs roughshod over everyone and is oblivious. She considers herself indispensable when truly she is just interfering. She loves being depended on so much that she enables her brother and sister to run wild and she tears into her husband when he tries to be firm about not paying for the siblings’ foibles. Why she panics when Ned wants to reconcile and why she has to lie and hide things from him I never understood. She was like the shrew in Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew. Argumentative just to be argumentative. Near the end, she started to wake up, but even then she got everyone tangled up into danger because of her idiocy. There is a line between being cute sassy and just mulish and irritating.
I do have to put a plug in for my favorite secondary character. I adored Sydney St. Denis. He was a truly wonderful creation. He was such a surprise as his character was revealed throughout the story. He comes across at first as a fop, but he shows that he is a true friend and someone to count on. I look forward to his story.
I loved how the backdrop of the time was done. There were lots of fine details in dialogue, places, activities and dress that were interesting. The details of the period were there, but they didn’t overwhelm the story itself.
In the end, I don’t hesitate to recommend this author to those who love historical romance particularly from the late Georgian early Regency Period.
Thank you to Net Galley for providing the book for review purposes.