Barbara’s Rating: 5 of 5 Stars
Series: The Brides of Bellaire Gardens #1
Publication Date: 8/24/21
Number of Pages: 336
This delightfully romantic and entertaining book has it ALL! Wonderful characters, wit, laugh-worthy humor, a despicable, shrewish harpy who definitely gets her comeuppance, TWO swoon-worthy romances, three adorable little girls, and it is all set a very realistic and well-described Regency London. I can hardly wait to see what the other books in the series bring.
Widowed Lady Alice Thornton, dowager Countess of Charlton, had a hard childhood and was then thrust into an abusive marriage to a man who didn’t want to marry her. She suffered for eighteen long years before her wretch of a husband finally kicked-the-bucket while in his mistress’s bed. However, more shame and strife were to come. Her husband left nice bequests for his mistress and his baseborn son, but all he left her was debts. If it weren’t for her wonderful grandmother having left her a home, she wouldn’t even have a place to live. Finally, she is almost through paying off his debts and can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Until … a blackmailer, Octavius Bamber, appears and makes demands – demands Alice must accommodate. She has no choice.
Lucy Bamber has been left to fend for herself almost her entire life. Her father is a scoundrel of the first order – a con man, a blackmailer, a card sharp, you name it and it applies to him. He arrives at wherever she is staying, whisks her off to someplace new, and then leaves her – to make her own way. Then, he does it again – and again – and again. She never knows where he is or even how to contact him. This last caper he has pulled is beyond the pale though. He has blackmailed a beautiful, kind, caring woman into sponsoring Lucy for a London Season. She MUST marry a lord of some sort, or he will execute his threat with the blackmail. Lucy hates the aristocracy – with good reason – and has no intention of marrying anyone with a title. She was resentful of Alice and thought she was just another in the long line of women with whom her father left her – until she learned the truth – and learned what a lovely, lovely person Alice was.
Gerald Paton, Viscount Thornton, is Alice’s nephew. His father inherited Alice’s husband’s earldom. His entire family is a scurvy lot – except for Gerald himself. His mother, Almeria, has always hated Alice and takes great delight in belittling and treating her with disdain. Gerald, on the other hand, loves his aunt Alice and will do all in his power to help her when she asks. Can Gerald track down the blackmailer and steal the letters from him? He’ll do his best, but he’s sure he’ll need help and he knows just who to ask.
Lord Tarrant has been a widower for the last four years. His marriage was a loving and happy one that produced three wonderful little girls. Tarrant hasn’t seen those little girls in over four years – he’s never even met the youngest one because his wife died while giving birth. Now that he’s sold his commission and inherited a title, it is his intention to collect his children and make a home with them. He’ll never marry again, but he can provide plenty of love for his girls. He fully believes that until he sees the most elegant, beautiful woman across a ballroom. Oh! It turns out she is the aunt of his friend Gerald – who served in the wars with him.
I absolutely adored these characters. I loved watching Alice loosen up and come to realize that Lord Tarrant wasn’t at all like her now deceased husband. Can she come to trust? Lucy and Gerald dance around each other – neither liking or trusting the other – yet they are strangely attracted. Can they overcome that distrust?
I hope you’ll love this book as much as I did. It has some of the best put-downs I’ve ever read. If you want to learn how to handle a verbal bully, just pay attention to Alice and Almeria. The girls are delightful and you’ll love getting to know them. I can hardly wait for the next book!
I voluntarily read and reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.