When the remarkable Phyllida Satterthwaite comes to town to stay with her uncle, she has the modest expectation of being treated to a London season and falling in love with a good man who won’t mind her lack of fortune. What she doesn’t expect is to be the talk of the ton on account of her unusually-colored eyes and unparalleled beauty. As the season begins, the lords and ladies of high society wait with bated breath for Phyllida to be snapped up by “the Collector.” The Duke of Moreland, a cruel old man with a penchant for one-of-a-kind curiosities, sees in Phyllida another work of art that he must acquire. Calculatingly, the duke makes a finanical arrangement with Phyllida’s uncle, and she finds that her consent is hardly required for the betrothal to take place.
Unfortunately for Phyllida, she knows no one in London to rescue her from her predicament–no one except for Captain Arthur Heywood, a soldier who can hardly walk on account of his injuries during the Peninsular War. Arthur is a business partner of Phyllida’s uncle–quiet, circumspect, and unobtrusive. It’s unlikely that a beauty like Miss Satterthwaite would favor him with more than a glance, but Phyllida surprises him by her consideration in each encounter at the park or over the dinner table. When she turns to him for help, Arthur knows that dueling the duke is out of the question. So just how can the honorable Captain Heywood save Miss Satterthwaite from her nightmare?
In true Mimi Matthews fashion, this story is full of broken heroes, damsels in distress, and clean but breathtaking romance. Although the setting is the Regency Period instead of Matthews’ usual Victorian Era, the settings and scenery come alive as a brilliant backdrop for the characters. Arthur is crippled in leg and spirit, learning to cope with the loss of his former physical prowess now that he can no longer be the best shot and best rider in his unit. Phyllida becomes his bright star, his reason to live and his reason to rehabilitate himself so that he can be her protector. One of the best things about Arthur is how capable he is. When Phyllida divulges her distress, he immediately puts events in motion to organize an escape, and as each chapter unfolds, the reader sees just how thoughtful and effective Arthur’s planning has been.
Phyllida (or Philly, as she prefers to be called) is a winsome and tender-hearted lady who cares enough for Arthur to avoid showing him pity. Her adoption of abused animals demonstrates that she cannot resist helping unfortunates, and she conducts herself wisely and well throughout all the difficult circumstances arrayed against her. One of the things I particularly enjoy in Matthews’ books is that the heroines are determined but still feminine, strong but never shrill, and women who comport themselves according to the norms of their time period. The well-worn tropes of so many Regency romances are present in this book, but the story is crafted so delightfully that it is as original as Phyllida’s face.
As with all other titles by this author, this book is highly recommended.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.