REVIEW of Vying for the Viscount (Hearts on the Heath #1) by Kristi Ann Hunter

vying for the viscountWhen the new Lord Stildon returns from India, every lady in the surrounding neighborhood is eager to assess his eligibility for marriage, whereas every gentleman is curious to see what he will do with his grandfather’s stables at Hawksworth. For Bianca Snowley, the latter concern is mostly on her mind as she has long had the privilege of exercising those fine horses every morning. But when Bianca’s stepmother insists that she must marry within the month to make way for her younger and more favored sister, Bianca wonders if she should set her cap for the socially inept Lord Stildon. A marriage of convenience would be especially convenient since the viscount is the owner of her favorite racing mares and stallions. The only trouble is, he’s asked her help to teach him the ways of society…so that he can pay his court to the reigning belle of the neighborhood. Perhaps Bianca would be better off exploring her other options since Lord Stildon sees her only as a friend….

Raised in India his whole life, Hudson finds himself woefully unprepared to enter English society to take his place as a viscount. How many other heirs to a title are incapable of dancing, paying morning calls, and making polite conversation with a woman? When he encounters his lovely, lively, and unconventional neighbor in the Hawksworth stables, he entreats Miss Snowley to help him develop his polite address. An advantageous match with a wealthy horse owner’s daughter presents itself, and Hudson queues up with the other gentlemen in the area to win Lady Rebecca’s interest. But why does he find every encounter with her insipid compared to the lively interaction that he has with Miss Snowley?

This Regency romance plays on the trope of two friends trying to find suitable matches for the other…and falling in love with each other in the process. The Regency setting of horse racing is thoroughly explored although the characters were very comfortable with ignoring Regency norms of behavior for unmarried men and women. Bianca was the typical heroine of modern Regencies, almost a spinster and more interested in masculine pursuits than was acceptable for the time. Hudson was hard to pin down as a character, being both socially inadequate and yet also a charmer every time Bianca observed him chatting up the other ladies. For me, one of the secondary characters–Aaron Whitworth, the master of the stables–stole center stage, and I found myself far more interested in this brooding, illegitimate son of an aristocrat than I was in the self-pitying Hudson.

This Regency was a quick and pleasant read, but it didn’t particularly stand out to me amongst the other titles in this genre. The Christian elements of the story were less explicit than in some of the other titles by this author; however, Hudson does journey toward trusting God throughout his trials. Fans of clean romances will enjoy this story…and I will enjoy knowing if Aaron Whitworth gets his own story in the next book of this series.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher via NetGalley. All opinions expressed in this review are my own. 

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