UK Publisher: Piatkus
Genre: Romance, historical fiction
Humphrey Wescott, Earl of Riverdale, has died, leaving behind a fortune that will forever alter the lives of everyone in his family – including the daughter no one knew he had . . .
Anna Snow grew up in an orphanage in Bath knowing nothing of the family she came from. Now she discovers that the late Earl of Riverdale was her father and that she has inherited his fortune. She is also overjoyed to learn she has siblings. However, they want nothing to do with her or her attempts to share her new wealth. But the new earl’s guardian is interested in Anna . . .
Avery Archer, Duke of Netherby, keeps others at a distance. Yet something prompts him to aid Anna in her transition from orphan to lady. As London society and her newfound relatives threaten to overwhelm Anna, Avery steps in to rescue her and finds himself vulnerable to feelings and desires he has hidden so well and for so long.
This book was advertised with a pull quote claiming the author was the heir to the mantle of Georgette Heyer. You may have heard me mention Georgette Heyer a few times, across several reviews. I love her work. I devoured her romances in high school, and have revisited them again and again as an adult, like some kind of delightful romantic comfort blanket. So this was a Big Claim, and one that immediately caught my attention.
Knowing this was part of a series, it didn’t take me long to identify which characters introduced in this book would be getting a novel for their own romance at a later date. There’s something very relaxing about being able to identify the tropes and spot what is being set up for the future.
To begin with, this did read a lot like a Georgette Heyer, and Anna Snow is almost perfectly a Heyer heroine. Avery Archer less so a Heyer hero – he is clearly modeled after the Duke of Avon in my favourite, These Old Shades, but there is too much emphasis made on how his mannerisms are all a mask for his deeper compassionate feelings which make it feel a bit… silly at points. Also, he knows Kung Fu.
I think that was one of my main niggles with it – I enjoyed it a lot, but it felt a lot less… grounded than Heyer’s work, and some elements were silly beyond the suspension of disbelief. I loved the moments where the family were trying to train Anna into being the perfect aristocrat, and where she stubbornly resisted, those were every inch a Heyer story. The Kung Fu was somewhat less so.
Another surprise I encountered was that, unlike Heyer, this book got a bit… saucy. Where the usual Regency Romance I am used to ends at the confession of love, the bringing together of the characters, and everyone applauds – they all lived happily ever after, etc. etc. The marriage here happens about 3/4 of the way in, and so we get the wedding night as well. I found this a little jarring, mostly because I hadn’t been expecting it. I was also a bit annoyed by a couple of parts of it – the “it has to hurt the first time” part, and the fact that after all of it Anna doesn’t get off. I understand there were certain sexual mores of the time which were somewhat less aware of female sexuality, however if you are putting a sex scene in your Regency romance novel, let’s accept that it’s a fantasy pure and simple, and make it enjoyable all around.
Of course after that point the pair are continually boning like rabbits, and the sexual and romantic tension between them all but evaporates. I think what I enjoy most about Regency romances is the fact that the time period meant romances had to be slow burn. I love slow burn, I love the build of it. If it’s done well, a sex scene isn’t necessary to resolve it, you just need that final kiss or marriage or proposal. I almost found the last part of the book after that a little pointless, because the drive was no longer the relationship.
This isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy it – I read it in a day, and found it difficult to put down. Even though it was silly in parts, for the bulk it was exactly what I wanted, and exactly what it said on the tin. A Regency Romance, light and fun and enjoyable.
- A fun, fluffy romance with a bit of smut in to liven things up.
- Sometimes tends towards things which are a little ridiculous and stretch the suspension of disbelief a little.
- Balogh has been compared to Heyer, but I feel like had this been a Heyer book, it would have been along the lines of These Old Shades, and the transformation of Anna from Anna Snow to Lady Anastasia Westcott would have been give more focus. I would have preferred that, I think.
- Perfect holiday or weekend reading – not too heavy, but well written and enjoyable.
RATING: 3/5 – I think the flaws in it were a little jarring for me to rate it higher, but I did really enjoy it and I will certainly read more from her.