Secrets and ruin. How do you face down society and retain your dignity when your reputation is, if not in shreds, decidedly singed around the edges?
Lady Wilhelmina Stanhope is re-entering society after her disastrous first season.
Damning rumours are circulating in the various clubs about her, and even years later she is shunned and barely noticed.
Pursued by the new the Earl of Bellingham, a childhood friend, and author of her predicament, attracted to the Duke of Hartwell, a friend of her brother's, Willa is unsure of where to turn. Besides she has other fish to fry. Marriage is not even surfacing on her horizon.
I like Willa as a main character. I like Hartwell. I thought I might like Bellingham but he was such a 'Bad Man' that I happily hissed and booed him from the sidelines whenever necessary.
The beginning of the story had me thinking this is a different. It captured my interest. Sadly the journey to closure was not as well maintained as I thought it would be. Maybe it was that the bedroom scenes overtook the storyline. Or the amount of misunderstandings and mistaken meaning between Willa and Hartwell was discouraging for me, and downright frustrating for them. Although, I did appreciate that Hartwell kept rescuing Willa from the various situations she kept finding herself in.
Willa's distinct tea blends, and her secret involvement in a coffee house where poor women worked to support their children is a gem of an idea that should have been more fully realized. Reference to Mary Wollstonecraft's writings are made providing a background to Willa's efforts towards social responsibility. This is the second regency novel I've recently read where Wollstonecraft's name makes an appearance as being an influence on the heroine's more radical ideas. Certainly, as a philosopher and women's rights advocate of her time, she is an ideal figure for authors of our times to use to introduce more modern thinking into their plots.
There were a couple of other threads in 'Willa' that would have made intriguing unravelling but weren't.
All in all though, an enjoyable read despite my comments.