A Regency lady with a secret…
It isn’t Marianne Arnet’s fault that her parents are reputed to be spies for Napoleon and have fled Regency England. Now the handsome and powerful Lord Whitestone is threatening to bar her from the upcoming London Season and deny her a longed-for chance to mingle in the literary world.
Lord Whitestone doesn’t realise that Marianne is his secret correspondent, and that he’s already half in love with her. Now she’s determined to come to London, even if that means employing another identity.
After these two meet, there’s love in the air. And danger as well.
First Published: 1983
I really struggled with this book and how to write this review. On the one hand I wanted to like the unconventional nature of the heroine and how she approached the issue of revenging herself on Lord Whitestone. But on the other hand, it was really too unconventional to be believable, particularly in the context of Regency romances.
Marianne is 18 years old and has been brought up very conventionally in the country. Her biggest rebellion is publishing poems under a false name and receiving secret correspondence from Lord Whitestone about those poems. And yet, somehow we’re supposed to believe that not only is this young woman comfortable accepting a kiss from a man she’s never met before, and in traipsing around London in a number of ridiculous outfits, but that her very conventional family are comfortable with her doing it as well.
Then there’s the so-called hero – whilst I’m not a fan of ‘oh my goodness, I have compromised you with my kisses, I must marry you immediately’ storylines this man feels quite comfortable with kissing a woman he’s only just met and then simply offering an apology to her. That isn’t really Regency hero behaviour in my book.
And maybe that’s where my true struggle lies – neither of these people had met the other person and yet the first thing they did was kiss? (Well ok, the second thing since the first thing they did was dance in the moonlight in a garden). That’s just too far-fetched for me and it really coloured the way I read the remainder of the book.
Then there was the commentary on ‘fallen women’ which just didn’t sit well with me. Marianne’s mother has been through some terrible times and is likely to die if she remains where she is, but she balks at staying at a refuge for ‘fallen women’? Seriously? There’s also some pretty unbelievable rescues as well as some very convenient letters from Lord Whitestone that just required me to suspend my disbelief once too often.
And in the end?
Ultimately though I guess you want to know – did I feel the HEA was right? Was I left with a warm and fuzzy feeling or wishing I could get my money back?
Funnily enough I did think the HEA was right for these two silly people. I was never really invested in either of them so ultimately I did think they deserved each other. I definitely didn’t have a warm and fuzzy feeling about the whole situation though – I was just glad that the book had finished.
This is not recommended by me unless you’re willing to suspend quite a large part of your brain when reading it (maybe whilst drinking your favourite alcoholic beverage).