The Virgin Who Vindicated Lord Darlington by Anna Bradley

The Virgin Who Vindicated Lord Darlington (The Swooning Virgins Society, #2)Barbara’s rating: 5 of 5 stars

Series: The Swooning Virgins Society #2
Publication Date: 2/2/21
Number of Pages: 265
****4.5 Stars Rounded Up ****

This is a wonderful addition to the series featuring the ladies from the Clifford Charity School for Wayward Girls. This book isn’t quite as on-the-edge-of-your-seat exciting as the first book in the series, The Virgin Who Ruined Lord Gray, but it doesn’t need to be because the character’s makeup and backgrounds are different. The story is well-written, well-plotted, and populated with characters you will love – all of them. Just so you know – not that it makes any difference to the story – the Book Blurb says Cecilia goes undercover as a governess. She does not – she goes first as a housemaid and then moves into the nursery as a nursemaid.

Gideon Rhys, Marquess of Darlington, is known as the Murderous Marquess because everyone believes he murdered his wife. That rumor didn’t start for a while after his wife died, but when it did start, it spread with a vengeance. Gideon has spent the last year inside Darlington Castle, mourning his wife and trying to come to grips with the multiple tragedies in his life. Now, he owes it to his title and to his niece Isabelle to marry again and have children. He’s certainly not looking for love a second time, he’s had that and the loss of it has broken him. When he meets Miss Fanny Honeywell, he decides to offer for her – not because he loves her, but because she is graceful, lovely, biddable, and would probably make a good mother for Isabella. After the betrothal, he heads back to Darlington Castle because he’s heard the rumors of the White Ghost who is making appearances around Darlington Castle. He believes it is just a rumor, but, if it isn’t, he has to find out what is going on. Shortly after his arrival, he finds a woman by his lake – throwing stones into it. After he confronts her, she identifies herself as a new housemaid. He knows she is lying to him – he just doesn’t believe her – and so he dismisses her. You’ll find he dismisses her several times – none of them stick.

Cecilia Gilchrist doesn’t understand why Lady Amanda Clifford chose her to go undercover at Darlington Castle. She’s not as skilled as the other ladies at the school mostly because she is too soft-hearted and always believes the best of everyone. She just doesn’t feel she has the skills she needs to deceive the Darlington household and uncover the real facts behind the death of the last Lady Darlington. As her investigation continues – and she manages to keep herself employed there – she finds herself more and more attracted to the Marquess. One moment she believes he must be guilty because all of the facts say so – and the next moment her heart tells her it just can’t be true.

I love the slight gothic feel to the story. As you read, you come to feel as if you know what happened, but there are no facts to say so – and then there is the big reveal and you know all. The revelation might surprise – and it might not – but it is exciting to read. While it took Gideon a bit to come to his senses, we finally get our HEA – and the epilogue is sweet and romantic.

I definitely recommend this book. You’ll love Isabella who is Gideon’s four-year-old niece. I also enjoyed the staff, Mrs. Briggs, Amy, and Duncan, but my favorite was Gideon’s friend, Lord Haslemere, who I believe will be featured in the next book of the series.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Avid reader/reviewer of historical romance and historical mysteries.

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