The beginning of the story seemed a tad stilted but then maybe it just reflected the gauche innocence that is Serena. Out of her environment, stiff and unsure, Serena has been living a lonely life, managing the family's large estate whilst her brother's been part of Wellington's staff during the war. Said brother has returned with a wife who wastes no time in sending Serena off to London and out of her way.
A cousin to Phoebe (from The Seduction of Lady Phoebe fame), Serena meets Marcus' friend Viscount Robert Beaumont and promptly falls in love. Robert finally determines he might wed her on 'his terms.' 'Love was not right for Robert. Could he have her without it?'
Her gentle demeanour hiding a firm will, Serena declares she will only marry him if he loves her.
Well we spend some time with Robert chasing Serena across the channel, acting like a thwarted bear, and in general in a surly mood. Serena leads him a merry dance, albeit always seconds from surrender.
At last Serena starts to come into her own. I adore Robert's grandmother, Lady Beaumont who supports Serena's tactics and am intrigued by his Aunt Freddy who has secrets of her own. Both strong characters with a sense of humour.
Certainly the pace and the interest level picks up, after what I feared might be a steady decline, both mine and the plot's, and challenged with a few twists and turns.
I must admit that I am constantly being amazed by the intimate adventurousness of these Regency ladies I keep coming across. Serena and Robert do manage to find quite a bit of private time where, 'there was...only him.' Ably assisted by Robert's valet and Serena's dresser.
However, no regency novel worth it's salt leaves out the possibility of intrigue. That's provided by the problem of local children on Robert's estate being snatched to work in the mines or worse. A grim reminder of the life of the poor. And introduces another piece in the puzzle.
A thoroughly enjoyable read.
A NetGalley ARC