Barbara’s rating: 3.5/4 of 5 stars
Series: The Widowers of Aristocracy #1
Publication Date: 1/19/18
This well-plotted and well-written novel is very busy and basically follows two couples. This is not a steamy book, but it is sweet. The main couple is Lady Isabella Tolson and Octavius, Duke of Huntington, but I liked the romance between David Fitzwilliam, Earl of Norwick and Clarinda (Clare) Brotherton.
Lady Isabella is plundering through her mother’s (Arabella) belongings and finds a very old and worn letter with just a signature of ‘D’. She wonders who ‘D’ might be – because it sounds like a fairly intimate letter. She also has an old and worn calling card that her mother had given her when she told her that if anything ever happened and she needed help, to contact that person – David Fitzwilliam. Later that same afternoon, Isabella finds her father bent over her mother’s lifeless body and she’s convinced he’s murdered her. Isabella flees to London to find David Fitzwilliam.
Lady Isabella ends up at the brothel, The Elegant Courtesan, owned by David Fitzwilliam. She has ridden on horseback all night, is tired and bedraggled and terrified of her father. After hearing Isabella’s story, David knows he has to hide her in order to keep her safe until he can discover the truth or until her father dies – whichever comes first.
David sends an urgent message to Octavius and asks him to come to the brothel right away. After reading the entire missive, Octavius hurries out. After a discussion, they agree that the best place to hide Isabella is at the Octavius’ country estate, Huntinghurst. Since Isabella is horse-mad, it is the perfect location for her.
This tale covers several years – April 1813 through the Epilogue in March 1816. There were a number of things that just aren’t Regency appropriate – or at least it didn’t seem so to me. For instance – at around the 27% mark we have the maid changing into livery, when maids didn’t wear livery – footmen wore livery and sometimes the coachmen, but not the maids. Then we have the lady asking the butler his name in conversation. There was a lot of handshaking going on. I don’t think the ladies shook hands in that period – the gentlemen probably didn’t either. We also have servants, like Mr. Jenkins using the front door and everyone referred to one of the stable hands as Master George. I’ve never heard of the seat at the head of the table (the host’s seat) being called a carver – is that what it is called? I know there is a type of armed chair that is called a carver maybe that is how she was using it. Just wanted to mention a few that just didn’t seem right to me.
The story seems to portray Maxwell Tolson, Earl of Craythorne as a despicable villain and I just didn’t buy that. He was a very large man who was gruff and had a temper, but he didn’t beat his family or much of anything else that I can see. He truly loved his wife and his daughter. He was betrayed in that his bride was expecting another man’s child when they married –he never knew – but he always felt she was in love with someone else. That must have been a very hard thing to live with.
I loved that the story took place over a longer period of time because it should have allowed for a slow growth of affection and love. However – there were few visits between Isabella and Octavius. As you read through the story it shows long periods with no visits – but toward the end, they mentioned that he visited something like two days per month.
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“I requested and received this e-book at no cost to me and volunteered to read it; my review is my honest opinion and given without any influence by the author or publisher.”