England, 1860. An impoverished Victorian beauty is unexpectedly reunited with the now beastly earl who once broke her heart. Will they finally find their happily-ever-after? Or are some fairy-tale endings simply not meant to be?
A PROUD BEAUTY
Society beauty Sylvia Stafford is far too pragmatic to pine. When the tragic death of her gamester father leaves her destitute and alone, she finds work as a governess in a merchant’s household in Cheapside. Isolated from the fashionable acquaintance of her youth, she resigns herself to lonely spinsterhood until a mysterious visitor convinces her to temporarily return to her former life–and her former love.
A SCARRED BEAST
Colonel Sebastian Conrad is no longer the dashing cavalry officer Sylvia once fell in love with. Badly scarred during the Sepoy Rebellion, he has withdrawn to his estate in rural Hertfordshire where he lives in near complete seclusion. Brooding and tormented, he cares nothing for the earldom he has inherited–and even less for the faithless beauty who rejected him three years before.
A SECOND CHANCE
A week together in the remote Victorian countryside is the last thing either of them ever wanted. But when fate intervenes to reunite them, will a beastly earl and an impoverished beauty finally find their happily-ever-after? Or are some fairy-tale endings simply not meant to be?
This blog post addresses some of the things I discuss in this review – especially my questions about why such a good book isn’t with a big publishing house. Basically: there’s no sex, and publishers insist on it. Ugh.
I had no idea what to expect from this one. Small, unknown publisher, and a cover – while I love it for all the Victorian feelings, and wish more covers looked like this – that didn’t line up with my idea of a historical romance cover.
However, I LOVED this book. I really, really enjoyed it, loved that it was a proper romance, with a proper Victorian feel. I loved the angst and the genuine pain the characters seemed to feel. I loved that – as other reviews I’ve read have stated – that this felt like *HISTORICAL* romance.
It is a so-called “clean romance” (ugh, that term! – it means no sex), but this particular story would have been ruined with it.
While it seems to the hero that all the pain is on his side – after all, he is the one who was wounded badly in India after seeming to lose his (almost) fiancée – there is a moment around the halfway point where he realises what happened to that lost fiancée in the three years they were apart, and realises how awful her situation has been.
There’s one very sad, emotional scene that made me feel more than I’ve felt in many books, and even though I was reading in the early hours of the morning I just had to go on.
I also enjoyed the secondary characters, and that while they initially seemed to be stereotypes, they weren’t.
I don’t know what such a talented author and such a high-quality book is doing in such an obscure situation, but I hope to see more Victorian-era (yay!) books from this author.
Review copy provided by NetGalley.