Unlacing Lady Thea by Louise Allen
So I was ready to give Lady Thea 5 stars before I'd even finished the first chapter. The rest of the novel did not disappoint!
I am captivated by Allen's dialogue. Her dry humour leavens the story. Smart and amusing lines such as when Rhys, in his cups, scolds the ginger tomcat for ungentlemanly behaviour is just one example. Rhys Denham, the third Earl of Palgrave is a rake, though capable of redemption. He has decided that it's time to do his duty and marry, but first he will do the Grand Tour he missed out on due to the war years. After all, as he solemnly confides to his cat, he is twenty-eight and will appreciate it more.
Lady Althea Curtiss, daughter of the Earl of Wellingstone, has known Rhys forever and appears at his bachelor household dressed as a boy. Rhys is five sheets to the wind, and 'thoroughly foxed not drunk' he reassures the cat. Thea is entrancing, winsome and a madcap! She is fleeing an unwanted marriage and wants to travel to the continent wIth Rhys and onto Venice to find their mutual Godmother, in order to gain control of her inheritance. The 'foxed' Rhys agrees. Of course their journey is littered with distractions caused by Althea's sense of adventure and wish to sample something of life, all assisted by a variety of humorous misunderstandings.
The thing about being an author is that you can locate your characters anywhere you want to. So Paris and then onto Venice! What a treat for us readers!
The dance between Thea and Rhys is highly amusing, each trying to ignore the pull of attraction they feel. As is their abortive attempts to not imagine each other unclothed.
Later, imagination became unnecessary. The witty interactions between Rhys and Thea remind me somewhat of some Heyer's writing with overtones of the ugly duckling.
As the swan emerges we applaud!
A NetGalley ARC