A journey into pleasure…
The night before dissolute Lord Denham is about to embark on his grand tour, he meets an unexpected complication. In boy’s clothes that barely conceal her delectable curves, his childhood friend Lady Althea Curtiss—desperate to escape an arranged marriage—arrives, demanding free passage!
Rhys accepts his unlikely traveling companion with great reluctance—the scandal is sure to blow up in his face—until he finds there is far more intimate territory Lady Thea is curious to explore. Soon he realizes that he is in danger of awakening not only Thea’s sensuality, but also his own long-buried heart…
I love Louise Allen’s writing. I love that her characters are both fun and also feel truly British. I love pretty much everything about how she constructs her stories.
Which is why I picked up a review copy of this one even though I tend to despise the set-up mentioned in the blurb: the heroine who sneaks away in men’s clothing.
Firstly, that particular piece of storyline is dispensed with very fast. Secondly, the way it was written in Unlacing Lady Thea was just fine.
Friends to lovers, plain Jane who has always loved the hero but been eclipsed by more spectacular women, there’re some popular tropes used in this book but I think they were done well, not just same old, same old.
‘Tell me, Thea.’
‘You.’ It was a whisper.
‘What did you say? Don’t mumble. For a moment I thought you said it was me.’
I loved that Rhys forgot that in their six year separation Thea had grown up, and that he kept mistaking her for the girl she was in the past. It was funny to see him forget time and time again that she was already out, already thinking of marriage. Because he kept her as a girl in his head, it took him a while to see her as anything different.
‘You aren’t a child any longer.’
Was she? She looked about seventeen, if he was generous.
This book takes us on a wonderful journey through France and Italy, and anybody who has visited any of these places is going to love hearing about people of the past living and loving in them. The author’s note at the front of the book says that Allen worked her own travel experiences into the story, and you can tell. It feels so authentic.
‘Impossible! How can I sleep like this?’
‘Count dolphins jumping over rocks,’ Rhys murmured in her ear. ‘Sheep would get too wet.’
‘Idiot,’ she murmured.
I just really liked this story. I loved the way the relationship developed, and I liked the secondary characters (who were servants). There was even a little secondary romance going on in the background. I loved that it managed to be fun a lot of the time, even with the drama and hurt feelings of the characters.
‘Call him out? For pity’s sake, Rhys- on what pretext?’
‘I’ll find one. I am certain I can take an offence at his hat, or his face or the way he laughs.’
I also loved that the hero’s black-haired, blue-eyed looks are put down to his Welsh heritage, that there was a reason for them. I definitely tire of that stereotypical look being used in every historical romance set in England, considering it is not the standard look of the average Englishman!
I was starting to worry about my beloved Harlequin/Mills and Boon Historical line, with recent reads including a male prostitute and a romance based on a rape. Unlacing Lady Thea has well and truly restored my faith.
Review copy provided by NetGalley.