Vanessa Blackburn has grown up in Scotland with her father, estranged from her mother and separated from her twin sisters. When she comes of age, she must return to England to have her “season,” and hopefully find a husband who doesn’t mind her independent spirit. Riding disguised as a gentleman, she falls into company with Lord Montgomery Townsend.
A reputed rake and a satellite of the Prince Regent, Monty has been entrusted with the care of a temperamental and foppish foreigner who has assassins on his tail. A connoisseur of the female form, Monty sees through Vanessa’s disguise right away, but the real surprise is that they are both heading in the same direction to the Blackburn home. Monty is an incorrigible flirt, and it is not surprising that sparks fly between the two, sparks that Vanessa won’t admit to being anything more than friendship.
As the season begins, Vanessa discovers that she has the opportunity to end her father’s exile by marrying the unsavory son of an aristocratic family. She asks Monty for his help in obtaining the fellow’s goodwill. In between juggling his foreign charge and avoiding assailants, Monty gives Vanessa some lessons in allurement, discovering–perhaps too late–that he is willing to throw away all his wild days of freedom if Vanessa will give up her insane plan and marry him instead.
This book had a clever plot with more going on in it than your typical Regency romance. Monty is a likable hero, letting his own reputation suffer for the Prince’s peccadillos and dealing with his outrageous foreign charge with humor. Like so many other Regency heroes, Monty is a rake in need of reform, but not as bad a rake as everyone thinks he is. The relationship between Monty and Vanessa was a little more explicit than the innocuous book cover might imply. Vanessa alternates between self-sufficiency and acting like the inexperienced teenage girl that she is. Vanessa’s affection for her twin sisters is well-portrayed, as is the jealousy precipitated by three girls coming out at the same time to the same pool of admirers. One thing that niggled was the patently ridiculous “misunderstanding” between Vanessa’s parents. All in all, however, this book was an enjoyable read.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.