This is a Regency romance with one immediate twist; at least two of the female characters always says what they think and follow their beliefs, whatever the consequences. It makes the men around them think and react in interesting ways. This being essentially a romance novel there is an attraction for a man who perhaps breaks the mould or at least expectations. The hero of this book is a real naval hero, veteran of Trafalgar, and show stoppingly handsome. To make him entertaining and interesting, he has a troubled background, and is painfully self aware. Anna is a very strong character, who is running her own business, looking after her widowed mother, and has some bitter experience of aristocratic men. This is a novel where anticipation and surprises are the dominant feature, as well as firmly held views on the different levels of society. I was really pleased to have the opportunity to read and review this lovely book.
As the story begins two men are drawn towards a biscuit shop, a highly successful and fashionable shop in Bath, which is full of those drawn not only by the promised healing properties of the spa water, but also the social scene. Both men are convinced that the two young women they have seen through a shop window are beautiful; but both have their own reaction. The younger and more naive Henrietta attracts Ralph who has few scruples about young women, whereas the good hearted Samuel Delaney is instantly attracted by Anna, who is less than impressed by aristocratic men. Anna is resourceful and protective of Henrietta, which attracts Samuel, as indeed her personality intrigues him. She encounters his grandparents, who are a seemingly ill matched in their obsessions, but who love each other deeply. Lady Jarrow is determined to help her much loved grandson, as well as rescue an old friend. As she makes firm suggestions or decrees about people’s lives, she takes a firm line with everyone in quite a funny way.
There is a party, a departure from Bath, and some very detailed exploration of how two characters with seemingly little in common find a deep mutual attraction. They have many challenges to face and events beyond their control occur.
This is the sort of book which I wanted to read quickly to find out what happens. It is a gentle and uplifting read, with a lot to recommend it for many readers. I really enjoyed the strong female lead character who is decisive if occasionally misguided. Lady Jarrow is a fantastic creation, who deeply loves and wants the best for others, despite the fact that she hides it behind an obsession with horses and riding. Samuel is a man with hidden depths, a brave naval officer who realises that he must respond to those he loves. Anna is capable of great love, intelligent and loyal. I really enjoyed this book which is comfortable with its setting as the research is never overwhelming but accurate. I really recommend this book to readers of historical romance, especially in the Regency period, and also those who enjoy a good uplifting story.