Lady Joanna Barrand had a decided tendre for her childhood companion, Tony, Lord Ashford. Oh, she knew he was a confirmed gambler, especially since his brother had died, and she knew he was courting a beautiful older widow for her fortune, but she also knew that someone had to come to his assistance. Since her heart was already captured, there was really no risk involved…
No, no, and again I say no. I’m sorry but this book just did not do it for me at all. There’s just too much going on, and yet at the same time there’s not enough going on in regards to the romance between Joanna and Tony.
There’s a lot of detailed information about the relationship between the older widow and her late husband; the relationship between the older widow and Tony; the relationship between the villain and his mother; and the relationship between a Bow Street Runner and a Madam, but Tony and Joanna? Seriously they spend like 3 days together in the whole book. I get that they’re friends and she already loves him but it really does seem like a stretch to have Tony fall in love with her on very limited interaction.
Oh, but that’s right – he only falls in love with her after seeing “the way the line of freckles ended and the pale white skin of her breasts began.” It’s all about the physical with this man, let’s not mention how Joanna hired someone to clear his name or helped reinstate him in Society – nope let’s simply concentrate on her curves.
But even after this ‘epiphany’, he still frequents a brothel and enjoys the pleasures to be found there – which is not at all the behaviour I personally expect from any romantic hero, let alone a Regency romance hero. So there’s a big fat negative for Tony.
I could go on about the other things I disliked about Tony but really there’s no point. Basically I really struggled to connect with him and in the end I just felt like kicking Joanna and saying – you can do so much better than this loser.
I did like the story about Gideon (the Bow Street Runner) and Mrs Spencer (the brothel owner) but I resented the time it took away from Tony and Joanna. If there’d been of a story between them, then I think I would have enjoyed Gideon and Blisse much more but as it was, I spent most of the time waiting for Tony and Joanna to come back on stage.
Ultimately though I guess you want to know – did I feel the HEA was right? Did the misunderstanding make sense? Was I left with a warm and fuzzy feeling or wishing I could get my money back?
And in the end?
Unsurprisingly, my answers to these questions are I have no idea what Joanna saw in Tony and his love appeared to be purely physical so can see no possible HEA there; there wasn’t really a misunderstanding at all other than the usual inability to talk to each other; I did not have a warm and fuzzy feeling at all and I do wish I’d borrowed this from the library rather than purchased it outright.
If you’re looking for a different style of Regency romance with different relationship styles and a more serious look at Society then I recommend any of Carla Kelly’s books or some of Mary Balogh’s earlier books (before she transitioned into Historical Romance) rather than this particular book.