Barbara’s rating: 4 of 5 Stars
Series: The Phoenix Club #4
Publication Date: 1/25/22
Period: Regency – London
The end of the last book, Intolerable, left us scratching our heads and wondering what was going on with lady’s companion Prudence Lancaster. When Charlotte and Ruark arrived at the inn to collect Prudence, they found an empty room and a note from Prudence. The note said she’d eloped. Since Prudence was quiet and secretive about her personal life, they assumed it was possible and left for the beginning of their HEA. But …
Prudence endures hours of pain and discomfort from being trussed up, head covered, and bouncing on the floor of an old coach. When the villains finally drag her into a room at an inn and remove her head covering, she realizes her abductor is none other than Bennet St. James, Viscount Glastonbury. WHAT! He is as stunned as she is because she is NOT the woman he’d paid the thugs to abduct. No, he’d expected to see Lady Charlotte and to convince her to elope with him. Now what?
After Prudence gives Bennet a thorough dressing down and he totally expresses his sorrow and mortification at being part of such a heinous act – and he continues to apologize ad nauseum, she finally begins to believe he is truly remorseful.
Bennet is an exceedingly desperate man. He and his estate are destitute and he has a plethora of much-loved older family members to support. If he cannot come up with the wherewithal to pay his father’s debts and get the estate operating profitably, those very eccentric old ladies will have no place to live nor anyone to care for them. Lady Cassandra and he had met and liked each other and she had even intimated she was amenable to his suit – but – when her father told him that his suit wouldn’t be welcome, Bennet thought it was just from the father and that Charlotte would still be amenable. That is why he had her abducted – and he certainly didn’t intend for any lady to be treated as those thugs had treated Prudence.
Bennet and Prudence concoct a plan to get her back to London before she is missed too much. If they handle it right, they can get her back without her reputation being damaged and she can continue to work as a lady’s companion. Fate, however, has other plans for these two. A storm rages for days preventing travel at all – and it also causes a tree to fall on the inn’s stables – where Bennet’s carriage is stored. The carriage is left beyond repair – and he certainly doesn’t have the money to replace it.
Through all of the trials of the storm, Bennet and Prudence come to truly like each other – and more. However, they each know they will have to become strangers after they return to London. Bennet absolutely must marry an heiress and as a lady’s companion, Prudence wouldn’t be in the company of a peer. Things seem bleak indeed.
After they return, Prudence is welcomed back into her former life and Bennet continues to seek an heiress for a wife. Then there are some shocking discoveries made and life changes. Can the two of them make a go of it? Can Bennet resolve himself to accept his new family situation? Will Prudence be welcomed into either of her new families?
I thoroughly enjoyed the read, but just could never come to respect Bennet for his choices. I am sure we’ll see more of what happens with Bennet and Prudence in the next book, Intolerable, because that book features Ada Treadway (Prudence’s best friend) and Maximillian Hunt, Marquess of Warfield (Prudence’s half-brother).
I voluntarily read and reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.