Christopher Culver, the Earl of Cordray, had not found one interesting woman at London ton gatherings, but he was intrigued by the midnight rides of Miss Gillian Tate. This spinster daughter of his reclusive estate tenant had secrets tucked in her satchel and a fierce independence which could ensnare even a dashing rake.
We first meet CHRISTOPHER CULVER (Cord for short) as he flees a family dinner where his (unwanted) engagement is meant to be announced.
I have to admit this behaviour put me off the hero immediately since leaving a young woman to be embarrassed like that, is not really the most heroic behaviour, regardless of how much he disliked the idea of marrying her.
However, onward and upward – it was the start of the book and the hero does need to go through a bit of a journey right? Maybe this would turn out to be his emotional journey – facing up to responsibilities rather than fleeing them.
Enter the heroine GILLIAN TATE, a woman of mystery who appears prone to riding through the dead of night across Cord’s country estate (or hideout if you prefer) but for what reason?
There’s a definite awareness between Cord and Gillian from the moment they meet and I liked the way Gillian was aware of it and reacted as a grown woman, not a silly teenager.
“She whispered inwardly. Ah, my lad, you may smile and smile with your green-fire eyes, but you may look elsewhere for your next conquest.”
That type of awareness and adult behaviour (by Gillian, Cord not so much) follows through the whole book, which makes a nice change from many other romances where the heroine’s entire thought processes are derailed by one kiss. Although Gillian is affected by Cord’s kiss (it is a romance novel after all), she is able to keep her head and her natural intelligence continues to display itself.
There’s also more than one secret being held by the two main characters – the first is of course why Gillian feels the need to undertake those midnight journeys – and the way these come out is very nicely done.
I also really liked the description of when Cord stays the night – the two different points of view were quietly funny and served to underpin some of the differences between Gillian and Cord.
So what did I dislike about the book?
Well as already mentioned, there was the boorish behaviour by the hero in fleeing his commitments which kept me from really entering into the spirit of things initially.
There’s also a few editing errors which weren’t major but did jar me out of the story – full stops instead of commas for example, or incorrectly calling Cord’s brother ‘Mr’ early in the story and then using the correct form of ‘The Honourable’ later in the book.
Gillian’s eyes too, veer from grey to brandy-coloured and back again during the story – no mean feat!
However, as already said these are minor details and easily overlooked really.
Do I recommend it?
Yes, I do. I think if you’re looking for a nice, light, traditional Regency romance with a twist of mystery and a garnish of intelligent writing, then you may well enjoy this book.