Series: Regency Belles of Bath #2
Publication Date: 01/01/21
Number of Pages: 288
This was a most refreshing and welcome read – A gem among the many dark, intense, grim, and depressing books that seem to be releasing in abundance during this lockdown and COVID pandemic period. It is a delightfully well-written, romantic, well-plotted, and well-executed read. The characters are all wonderful – not a clinker in the lot of them. I am so very happy to have found and read this book!
In the first book of the series, An Unconventional Countess, we met and got to know Henrietta Gardiner a bit, and we also learned a little about Sebastian Fortini though we didn’t actually get to meet him. Anna Fortini, Sebastian’s sister, managed their family-owned bakeshop until she met and married her hero, Samuel. When Anna married and became a Countess, she made Henrietta the manager of the shop. I tell you this only to give you a tad of the background – but – you don’t need any of it. This book is part of a series, but it can totally stand alone.
Henrietta Gardiner is so grateful to have been made manager of Belle’s Biscuit Shop, the very best biscuit shop in Bath. She loves making the biscuits and she loves the new assistant, Nancy MacQueen, who is working with her. All is right with her world, except for her troubled brother, David, who has gone off the deep-end with drinking since he lost his wife. Henrietta does her best to help with her three young nephews, but she can’t be in two places at once. Henrietta is very, very leery of men. She doesn’t trust them and she has good reason to feel that way. In her experience, all men want to do is compliment her, flatter her, and seduce her without ever getting to know the real her. So, she discourages them, vehemently.
Sebastian is feeling rudderless at the moment – and suffering from a great deal of guilt. He’s rudderless because his naval career is at an end – it seems they don’t need as many officers without a war. He feels guilty because his father died shortly after he had joined the navy and he couldn’t get home to help his sister and his mother run the shop and deal with all of the issues involved. With his mother incapacitated, he knew everything fell on Anna – and couldn’t be there to help. Well, that is all changed now because he’s back to help run the shop. Won’t Anna and his mother be surprised! They haven’t been able to communicate in over a year – no letters at all – so they have no idea he’s even coming home.
After an arduous journey by stagecoach, Sebastian arrives at the bakery in the middle of the night. He knows his mother and sister are asleep, so he’ll just let himself in and then sleep in a chair until they awaken. He’ll be so excited to see their faces when they find him home! Except – when he steps inside, he starts tripping over things – so many things have moved – he’s making more noise than he wants, but … Then, as he approaches a door, it slams open and hits him in the face, and knocks him to the ground. There stands the most beautiful angel he’s ever seen – and she’s carrying tongs as a weapon – and … she’s NOT his sister. What is going on?
After a number of shocking (to Sebastian) revelations regarding his sister’s whereabouts and status – as well as his mother’s – Sebastian isn’t sure where his future currently lies. The termagant intrigues him and he has friends with whom he wants to visit, so he’ll delay his leaving for another few days. Wise move dude.
I loved seeing Henrietta learning to trust Sebastian – something that is so very hard for her. I also loved seeing Sebastian come to terms with his sister and his mother’s choices since he’d been gone – not to mention his growing regard for Henrietta. Both of these lovely people are just that – lovely. They are giving, caring, concerned for others, and so very supportive of each other. As I said earlier, this is a delightfully happy book and it was so very welcome in this time where most of the releases from authors I read seem to be filled with dark, grim, and intense things. Now, I cannot wait for the next book.
I definitely recommend the book and hope you will enjoy it as much as I did.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.