Devonshire, England, 1820
Determined to avoid the strife-filled marriage of his parents, Marcus, the Duke of Ulvercombe, wants an amenable, biddable wife, and has set his cap for a certain pretty miss. Unfortunately, her vastly opinionated, frustrating, and lamentably beautiful guardian, Lady Clara Tinniswood, keeps distracting him, tempting him to consider a far more tempestuous—and passionate—union.
Recently widowed Lady Clara Tinniswood wants only to organise a quiet new life for herself, beyond the control of any man. But one shockingly unguarded moment while confronted by Marcus’s gloriously naked body catapults her headlong into a forbidden passion and threatens to undermine all her well-laid plans.
Even if Marcus abandons his sweet ideal and surrenders to his growing desire for Clara, there’s one unalterable issue which could destroy their hopes forever…
Distracting the Duke (Wayward in Wessex #1) by Elizabeth Keysian
This romance, set at the end of the Regency, follows some standard tropes (the “hero who falls for the guardian of the girl he’s pursuing” is everywhere at the moment), but shows this new author has potential.
We have a slightly older heroine, a young widow who was glad to be rid of her abusive husband. I think the author found a good balance between describing her first marriage and not going overboard with the details. We had enough information to draw our own conclusions.
I also like that even though the hero set out to marry someone young, pretty, and stupid, the heroine’s ward – the girl he had his eyes – on isn’t stereotyped. We get to see that she is smarter than she lets on, and she is not a bad person (I take it she’s a future star of her own book in the series?). Being pretty is not a crime, and too many authors make out that it is; Keysian does not.
There’s often something a little different about historical romances set in England when they’re actually written by a British author. The dialogue, the attitudes, the general behaviour… it often comes across a bit more authentic, and tends to be missing the “Disney princess” feel too many books in this genre have these days.
On the other hand, there were FAR too many chapters – going on to fifty in such a short book. Some chapters were only a couple of pages!
On a side note, I doubt the heroine’s brother and his wife would be exercising family planning in 1820! The discussion about them thinking about starting a family was very 2017 – contraception was for prostitutes back then.
There’s one thing I had an issue with that is not the fault of the author, but the line the book is published under. That issue is the trope-y, forced proximity themes of the plot; it is published under one of Entangled’s category romance lines, and they specify that their authors MUST write like this.
That means the first kiss comes very early, and in a forced proximity situation. It means the hero accidentally falling on top of the heroine while she only has her nightclothes on. It means more forced proximity when they keep bumping into each other in all kinds of situations.
I get that category romances require a shorter book with a tighter plot, but it doesn’t give authors much chance to grow the romance naturally.
That aside, this was a solid entry into the Regency-era genre.
Review copy provided by NetGalley.