The Secret Marriage Pact (The Business of Marriage #3) by Georgie Lee

This title may be purchased from Amazon.

An improper proposal!

Jane Rathbone is used to being left behind, and no longer believes she deserves happiness. But when childhood friend Jasper Charton returns from the Americas, more dangerously sexy than ever, she has a proposition. She’ll give him the property he needs if he’ll give her a new future–by marrying her!

Jasper never imagined taking a wife, but wonders if loyal Jane could be his redemption. And when their marriage brings tantalizing pleasures, convenient vows blossom into a connection that could heal them both…

Rating: B

Georgie Lee continues her Business of Marriage series with The Secret Marriage Pact, a friends-to-lovers story which reunites two childhood friends after almost a decade apart.  Jane Rathbone and Jasper Charton were almost inseparable as children, but the nine years Jasper has spent in America have changed him and he has returned home a troubled man, weighed down by guilt he is unable to shake off and secrets he is unable to share.

We first met Jane as a teenager in A Debt Paid in Marriage and now, almost a decade later, she’s a shrewd, intelligent young woman of twenty-three with an eye for a bargain and almost as good a head for business as her brother, Phillip.  Unfortunately, however, she has recently become the subject of ridicule because her fiancé – Jasper’s brother, Milton – eloped with another woman just two weeks before he and Jane were due to be married.  While Jane isn’t exactly heartbroken – she wasn’t in love with Milton, but she’d liked the idea of having a husband who was a friend – she’s furious about being made a laughing-stock. This leads her to bid against him at a property auction and to buy the Fleet Street building he had been bidding for – but her satisfaction at beating him is short lived when she learns he had actually been acting for Jasper, recently returned from America and who wanted the property in order to start a business.

Jane is thrilled but also wary of meeting Jasper again after all these years.  As children, she and the Charton brothers were extremely close, forever running around together causing mayhem and creating mischief, but things changed when, at fifteen, Jasper was told he would be going to Savannah to learn the cotton business from his maternal uncle.  Jane had already realised she felt more than friendship for Jasper and told him before he left that she would wait for him, but he didn’t think he’d ever return and rebuffed her.

Now, however, Jane is determined not to accept rebuffs or excuses and instead conceives a plan which could help both of them.  Jasper wants the building she purchased and she wants freedom from the restrictions she has to endure as a single woman.  Getting married would mean they could both get what they want while working together to establish Jasper’s business venture.

Their old connection is as strong as ever – although now, it comes with the added piquancy of mutual sexual attraction – but Jasper is astonished at Jane’s proposal and equally surprised to find himself tempted by it.  Even though he told her not to wait for him when he left, he has never forgotten her and continues to harbour feelings for her that go beyond friendship.  But the things he has seen and done in the last nine years have profoundly affected him, and the last thing he wants to do is to weigh her down with his secrets and corrupt her the same way the life he’s led has corrupted him.

You can read the rest of this review at All About Romance.

The Forbidden Duke (The Untouchables #1) by Darcy Burke (audiobook) – Narrated by Marian Hussey

Spinster Miss Eleanor Lockhart is suddenly homeless and employment is her only option. Ruined after succumbing to a scoundrel’s excessive charm nearly a decade ago, she’s lucky to obtain a position as a paid companion and committed to behaving with the utmost propriety. She definitely shouldn’t be in the arms of a man capable of utterly destroying what little remains of her reputation…

Titus St. John, Duke of Kendal, is known as the Forbidden Duke, a mysterious, intimidating figure who enters Society just once each year at his stepmother’s ball. A decade ago, he was a devil-may-care rake until his idle roguery brought about the ruin of Eleanor Lockhart—and his resulting self-imposed isolation. Now she’s back, and she needs his help. But by “saving” her, he may just ruin her life all over again.

Rating: Narration – B+; Content – C+

The Forbidden Duke is the first book in Darcy Burke’s The Untouchables series, so named because the heroes are all men whose highly elevated positions in society make them unattainable by any but ladies of the highest station and put them most definitely beyond the reach of the heroines… supposedly.

I’ve read and enjoyed a couple of the later books in the series, so when this one popped up at Audible, I thought I’d give it a go; I haven’t read it and narrator Marian Hussey is always reliable.

Eleanor – Nora – Lockhart is twenty-seven and regards herself as being firmly on the shelf. During her second London Season several years earlier, she was found in the arms of a young man she erroneously believed was going to marry her and was forced to return home, her reputation in tatters. She has lived quietly with her father ever since, but now faces the prospect of becoming homeless due to his having lost a large sum of money in a poorly judged investment. They will have to sell their modest home, and while her father is going to go to live with his sister, there is no room for Nora and she has no other option but to seek employment. Fortunately for her, she lands well and truly on her feet first time out, securing a position as companion to the kindly Lady Sattersfield, who is willing to overlook Nora’s past and ruined reputation and give her a second chance.

You can read the rest of this review at AudioGals

Relaunch Mission (The Galactic Cold War #1) by Robyn Bachar

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Living mission to mission on the fringes of civilized space, Captain Lindana Nyota has managed to keep her crew paid and her ship in one piece. Barely. The privateer’s life of stealing Soviet supplies for the Alliance is taking its toll on everyone. Down a crew member, she now has to take on a new intel officer and hope it’s someone she can trust.

Lieutenant Gabriel Steele knew Lindy wasn’t expecting him to walk out of the air lock and back into her life, but he didn’t think he’d get his nose broken. As an intelligence agent for the Alliance, Gabriel has spent his career in deep cover, his sense of self crushed under layers of deceit—starting with the lies he had to tell Lindy years ago when he left her. A fresh start is all he wants, but the Alliance and his secret orders have already jeopardized that.

When an infamous pirate and friend of Lindy and her crew is reported alive and in possession of knowledge of a powerful Soviet weapon, finding her before the enemy does is paramount. But Gabriel can’t do it without regaining Lindy’s trust—and hopefully rekindling what he once sacrificed in the name of duty.

Rating: B-

This is the first in Robyn Bachar’s new Galactic Cold War series of science-fiction romances, and when I saw it touted as  ‘Firefly meets James Bond’  I couldn’t resist!

Set in a future in which the Cold War never ended, the story features the crew of the privateer ship Mombasa as it operates on the fringes of known space carrying out missions for the United Alliance of Democratic Nations – which mostly consist of raiding Soviet ships for supplies.  Captain Lindana Nyota and her tightly knit band of officers live a difficult existence; times are hard, their ship is in dire need of parts and repairs, and their last few jobs have gone badly wrong, resulting in the deaths of two crew members to whom Lindana was particularly close.

One of those people was the ship’s intelligence officer, and it’s imperative to their continued operation that they obtain a new one as soon as possible.  Arriving at the neutral  Tortue Station, Lindana is shocked and more than a little pissed off to discover that her new crew member is Lieutenant Gabriel Steele, the man who broke her heart fifteen years ago.

(As an aside, I had to chuckle a little at the description of Gabriel – he’s gorgeous, British, upper class, well-dressed and from a posh family… basically, he’s a space-duke 😉  It seems there’s no getting away from ‘em in romance – even in outer space!)

Not only is Lindana furious at the idea of having to work with the bastard who betrayed her so cruelly, she’s furious at herself for the fact that even after so many years, Gabriel still makes her feel things nobody else ever has.  Unfortunately, she has little choice but to agree to his appointment – but she doesn’t have to like it.

For the past fifteen years Gabriel  has worked as an intelligence officer (spy) for the Alliance, but that life has begun to pall and he’s tired of living a lie.  He requested the posting to the Mombasa because he wanted to see Lindana again and try to make things right, but he then receives orders to track down the Soviet spy responsible for the ship’s recent run of bad luck.  And of course, he’s not authorised to share that information with anyone – even Lindana – which pretty much puts paid to his idea of regaining her trust and asking if they can make a fresh start.

The story is action-packed and fast-paced, and Ms. Bachar packs a lot into a fairly small page count.  If anything suffers, it’s the romance – which is fairly perfunctory – but all the other elements of the story – the setting, the background, the action – are well done and kept me engrossed and entertained.   The political shenanigans between the Alliance, the Soviets and the breakaway Core Colonies Collective (C3) are clearly explained, and in a way that adds information at relevant times so there’s no feeling that you’re being subjected to an info-dump; the plotline is complex without being unintelligible and the author ramps the tension up nicely in the later chapters, when the crew of the Mombasa is on the trail of a ‘super weapon’ developed by the Soviets and beset by betrayal from their own side.

You can read the rest of this review at All About Romance.

Romancing Mister Bridgerton (Bridgerton #4) by Julia Quinn (audiobook) – Narrated by Rosalyn Landor


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Everyone knows that Colin Bridgerton is the most charming man in London. Penelope Featherington has secretly adored her best friend’s brother for…well, it feels like forever. After half a lifetime of watching Colin Bridgerton from afar, she thinks she knows everything about him, until she stumbles across his deepest secret…and fears she doesn’t know him at all.

Colin Bridgerton is tired of being thought nothing but an empty-headed charmer, tired of everyone’s preoccupation with the notorious gossip columnist Lady Whistledown, who can’t seem to publish an edition without mentioning him in the first paragraph. But when Colin returns to London from a trip abroad he discovers nothing in his life is quite the same – especially Penelope Featherington! The girl haunting his dreams. But when he discovers that Penelope has secrets of her own, this elusive bachelor must decide…is she his biggest threat – or his promise of a happy ending?

Rating: Narration – A+; Content – B+

The friends-to-lovers trope is one of my favourites in the genre, and one of my favourite examples of it is Julia Quinn’s Romancing Mister Bridgerton, the fourth book in her iconic series about the eight Bridgerton siblings.

Colin is the third son, and has featured in the previous books as a good-humoured, devil-may-care sort of chap; easy going with a killer smile, good sense of humour, able to laugh at himself and always ready with a quip or witty rejoinder. He’s all of those things, but by the age of thirty-three, has started to feel a little disgruntled at being thought of by practically everyone in society as just “A Bridgerton”. His brother is the viscount, his next eldest brother, Benedict, is making a name for himself as an artist but Colin… well, he’s not sure exactly what and who he is, and doesn’t quite know what he wants to do or to be, either.

Penelope Featherington has also appeared in the previous books as a close friend of the Bridgerton sisters, especially of Eloise. She was an object of catty remarks and ridicule for years, owing to her mother’s tendency to dress her in styles and colours that were completely wrong for her and for that lady’s almost maniacal desire to get her daughters married off. At twenty-eight, Penelope is now firmly on the shelf and is resigned to being the spinster daughter who will care for her mother into old age – although the one good thing about her being on the shelf is that she can dress how she wants and eschew the horrible clothes her mother made her wear.

Being a friend of the Bridgerton sisters means that Penelope has also been frequently in the company of the brothers, too, all of whom are friendly and treat her almost as one of the family, making a point of asking her to dance at balls or seeking her out at other functions. For years, Penelope has harboured a tendre for Colin, but has no hope of a return – why should he look at an unprepossessing woman like her when he’s one of society’s darlings; handsome, charming and witty, he is not without female admirers blessed with both youth and beauty and he can have any woman he wants.

Ms. Quinn freshens up the trope and gives it extra depth by virtue of her characterisation of the two principals. Colin is restless; he travels a lot and in fact spends more time abroad than he does in England. He is tired of being thought of as someone who is only good for a laugh and wants to actually do something with his life but he has no idea what until one day, Penelope inadvertently stumbles upon one of his travel journals and is so engrossed by his writing that she suggests he publish them. At first, Colin is furious at her having read his private journals and they quarrel, but eventually, her genuine enthusiasm and praise for his writing surprise and humble him and start him thinking that perhaps this is what he’s meant to do, and he takes her suggestion to heart.

Previously the perennial wallflower, Penelope has discovered that spinsterhood has its benefits; not only because she can dress as she wants, but because she feels free to be more herself and doesn’t have to put up with her mother’s constant attempts to marry her off. But Penelope has been keeping a huge secret from everyone around her for years; something that started as a way for her to fight back at those who looked down on her and that would ruin her if it ever got out. I’m not going to say more here because it’s a massive spoiler; but this secret is the book’s other major plotline and leads to some major conflict between Colin and Penelope later on.

But the real strength of this instalment in the series is in the characterisation and subtle development of the two leads. Penelope’s infatuation with Colin is of long-standing; she fell for his looks and charm without really knowing him, and during the course of the story discovers that he’s not the perfect man she had imagined. Colin knows Penelope only as the slightly plump, shy friend of his sisters, but through spending time with her, comes to realise that she’s also intelligent, quick-witted and lovely. Neither of them really knows how or why things are changing between them, they just know that they are, and those moments when they both start to really see each other – the best parts of any friends-to-lovers romance – are beautifully done.

Rosalyn Landor is, without question, one of the best narrators of historical romance around and her narrations of these previously unrecorded Bridgerton books (6, 7 and 8 were recorded some time ago, but not books 1-5) have been absolutely stellar. Romancing Mister Bridgerton is no exception; Ms. Landor’s pacing is excellent, her vocal characterisations of every single character are superb and in scenes where large numbers of characters appear, listeners can have no problems whatsoever working out who is speaking, so clear and expert is her manner of differentiating between all of them. It doesn’t matter if a character is old or young, male or female, aristocrat or servant, all are perfectly portrayed. I’m particularly fond of her interpretation of the formidable Lady Danbury, a wonderfully acerbic, perceptive but (secretly) kind elderly dowager of the sort so often found in historicals. Her portrayal of Colin, too, is spot on, and absolutely consistent with the way he was voiced in the earlier books in the series; suitably youthful and with a jaunty air that befits his reputation as a carefree young gentleman about town. But here, Ms. Landor is afforded the chance to explore another side of him, and she does it very well, adding a slight edge to his tone in some moments of heightened emotion or giving him a more seductive, husky note in the more intimate scenes.

If you’re a fan of historical romance audiobooks, you’ve no doubt listened to Rosalyn Landor already and know that her name on the front cover is a guarantee of an excellent narration. If you haven’t tried one, then the Bridgerton books can be listened to in any order, although I think you’ll get more out of them if you listen to them in order, as it will allow you to meet each sibling as they pop in and out of other stories in the series and get to know them better.

Whatever you do, though, Romancing Mister Bridgerton is another must listen for fans of this talented author/narrator pair and for fans of historical romance in general.

A Warriner to Protect Her (Wild Warriners #1) by Virginia Heath

This title is available to purchase from Amazon

An heiress in distress and an earl in disgrace…

When heiress Violet Dunston escapes from an abduction, she finds an unlikely protector in Jack Warriner – a member of one of England’s most infamous families. Ensconced with mysterious Jack behind his manor’s walls, soon escape is the last thing on Letty’s mind!

Jack may be an earl, but his father’s exploits have left him with nothing to offer except a tarnished name. He’s turned his back on the ton, but with Letty tempting him day and night, he finds himself contemplating the unthinkable – a society marriage!

Rating: B+

A Warriner to Protect Her is the first book in Virginia Heath’s new Wild Warriners series which features an impoverished earl and his three younger brothers.  This one is a well-written story and the romance is nicely done; Ms. Heath has the knack of creating strong chemistry between her romantic couples and both central characters are attractive and engaging.  I had a couple of niggles along the way, but nothing that seriously impacted on my enjoyment of the book, which is an entertaining and satisfying read.

Violet Dunston is heiress to the massive fortune amassed by her father in the tea trade, hence her being nicknamed  ‘The Tea Heiress’. Having lost her parents in a tragic accident some years earlier, she was taken in by her uncle, who was appointed her guardian, and has lived in the spotlight of London society, her fortune making her a great prize on the marriage mart.  On her twenty-first birthday, she will come into full possession of her considerable inheritance – an inheritance her uncle wants to get his hands on. He has been trying to persuade her to marry a crony of his, the Earl of Bainbridge, who is old enough to be her father and then some, but she refuses adamantly; and with four weeks to go until her birthday, Bainbridge kidnaps her with the intention of marrying her at Gretna Green and then doing away with her after he’s got control of her money.

Violet – Letty – is, fortunately, not one to give up easily, and manages to escape and elude her captors, running deep into the woods and then stumbling out and in front of a man on horseback before she passes out.

On his way back from the local inn late one night, a slightly inebriated Jack – who is, in fact, the Earl of Markham, but who has no use for his title – is startled when a bedraggled young woman darts into the path of his horse.  She’s in a bad way; her hands are bound and she’s bruised and shaking with the cold, so Jack takes her up in front of him and takes her back to Markham Manor where he quickly marshalls his brothers into service.  His youngest brother, Joe, is the next best thing to a physician they have; he wants to study medicine but Jack cannot afford to send him to university, so instead Joe reads every medical text he can get his hands on.  Between the four of them, they tend to the young woman’s injuries and look after her assiduously for the next few days while her life hangs in the balance.

When Letty starts to recover, she is confused and naturally wary of the fact that she is in a strange house and that she doesn’t know the men who have been taking care of her, so she is selective about what she tells them.  But as she comes to realise that they mean her no harm – and are not in league with her uncle – she tells them the truth; that she needs to stay hidden until her birthday.  Jack and his brothers swear to protect her until she can safely return to London.

Thanks to the underhand dealings and debauched lifestyle of their late father, grandfather and other predecessors, the Warriners are widely disliked and not trusted; even though Jack, Jamie, Jacob and Joe (yes, I admit I rolled my eyes a bit at all the ‘J’ names) are working hard to keep an admittedly ramshackle roof over their heads and support themselves by their labours, old wounds run deep and the local villagers refuse to do business with them.

Jack is proud, reliable and hard-working, which makes him a little unusual in the ranks of historical romance heroes; he’s an earl who does backbreaking work and doesn’t mind getting more than his hands dirty and his boots wet when it comes to rescuing stupid sheep from the mire.  He can’t afford to become distracted by someone like Letty, no matter how lovely she may be.  She’s a diamond of the first water and certainly not for the likes of him… yet he can’t help being fascinated by her.

Jack isn’t like any other man Letty has ever met.  She is well aware that society regards her as a pretty face and a large pile of money rather than an actual person, and the longer she spends holed up with Jack and his brothers, the more of a disconnect she feels between herself – the real Letty – and Violet, the darling of society.  She doesn’t want one of the many gentlemen falling over themselves to charm Violet out of her money, she wants to be Letty, a real person who can live a real life and use her wealth to do some good in the world.  She’s strongly drawn to Jack, to this honourable, kind man who has been a more or less a father to his younger brothers and works tirelessly to provide stability for them.  She senses he is attracted to her, too, but is confused by his blow hot/blow cold attitude; one minute he’s kissing her passionately and the next he’s avoiding her.  Letty knows what she wants, and what she wants is Jack – but he keeps her at a distance, insisting that an impoverished country farmer with nothing but a dilapidated house and a family name steeped in infamy is not good enough for her and is secretly worried that any relationship between them would sour, as happened with his parents.

I’m not a fan of the “I am not worthy!” trope in romance, which is one of the niggles I mentioned at the beginning of this review.  Even if there are good reasons a relationship isn’t a good idea, I still find it somewhat patronising when one character tells another that they don’t know their own mind.  Another niggle is the way in which Letty, who probably doesn’t know one end of a feather duster from another, suddenly becomes a domestic goddess (although not in the kitchen to start with) cleaning all the long-neglected, dusty nooks and crannies with gusto, moving heavy furniture and generally  doing a Snow White on her four not-dwarves.

Those things apart, however, A Warriner to Protect Her is another thoroughly enjoyable historical romance from this talented author.  She keeps the romantic and sexual tension between Letty and Jack simmering along nicely, and the other real highlight of the book is the relationship between the four brothers, who are clearly devoted to one another.  I particularly liked the rather enigmatic Jamie (whose book is up next), a former soldier and spy who was injured in the war and whose gruff manner hides a kind and, I suspect, romantic, soul.  Their close-knit, protectiveness is perfectly summed up by the author: When you mess with one Warriner, you mess with us all.

It’s a great start to the series, and I’m looking forward to more.

Enchanting the Earl (The Townsends #1) by Lily Maxton

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Llynmore Castle is the only place Annabel Lockhart has ever considered home. For years, she’s been able to live as she wished, freely roaming the wild moors. Now there’s a new earl, as arrogant as he is handsome, and he wants her out. But if he thinks she’ll go quietly, he’s in for a surprise.

Theo Townsend returned from war a changed man. After unexpectedly inheriting an earldom and a secluded castle in the Scottish Highlands to go with it, he thinks he’s found the perfect place to hide from the world—until he arrives to find a spirited, beautiful woman already in residence. He can’t just throw her out, but surely there’s a way to get her to leave on her own. The sooner she’s gone, the better, especially when he realizes there’s more than just mutual dislike between them.

Rating: B+

Lily Maxton gets her new series The Townsends off to a great start with the first book, Enchanting the Earl, a sweetly sensual character-driven romance set in a remote castle in the Scottish Highlands in 1812. It’s a short but charming enemies-to-lovers story in which the author skilfully balances the angst of the damaged hero with gentle humour and loving, familial relationships and brings a real depth to the characterisation of the principals and secondary cast.

A former soldier, Theo Townsend never expected to inherit an earldom or an ancestral pile in Scotland. Returned from fighting on the Peninsula damaged both mentally and physically, the newly minted Earl of Arden decides that the remoteness of Llynmore Castle will suit him admirably, affording him the opportunity to live in quiet solitude for the foreseeable future.  To his annoyance however, his brother and sisters have other ideas, and insist on accompanying him to see their new home which, Theo reflects, is at least big enough for him to be able to keep to himself and out of their way.

On arrival, Theo is further annoyed to discover that the castle is not, as he’d been led to believe, uninhabited.  In the courtyard, a striking but dishevelled young woman who is attempting to rescue a cat from a tree, introduces herself as Annabel Lockhart, and informs them that she resides there with her aunt, the widow of the previous earl’s brother.

Theo makes it immediately clear that he expects the ladies to leave, and says that he will have his solicitor find them somewhere else to live at the earliest opportunity. Annabel is furious at his arrogant high-handedness and dismayed at the prospect of having to leave the only real home and family she has ever known.  Orphaned as a child, she had been passed from relative to relative, most of whom took little notice of her and put her to work until one day she decided to seek out the scandalous aunt she had heard of over the years.  Travelling to Llynmore Castle, Annabel expected another rejection – but it never came.  Her aunt accepted her just as she was and the two of them have lived there contentedly ever since.

You can read the rest of this review at All About Romance.

The Jane Austen Project by Kathleen A. Flynn

This title may be purchased from Amazon

England, 1815: Two travelers—Rachel Katzman and Liam Finucane—arrive in a field, disheveled and weighed down with hidden money. They are not what they seem, but colleagues from a technologically advanced future, posing as a doctor and his spinster sister. While Rachel and Liam aren’t the first team of time travelers, their mission is the most audacious yet: meet, befriend, and steal from Jane Austen.

Carefully selected and rigorously trained by The Royal Institute for Special Topics in Physics, disaster-relief doctor Rachel and actor-turned-scholar Liam have little in common except their extraordinary circumstances. Circumstances that call for Rachel to stifle her independent nature and let Liam take the lead as they infiltrate Austen’s circle via her favorite brother, Henry.

But diagnosing Jane’s fatal illness and obtaining an unpublished novel hinted at in her letters pose enough of a challenge without the convolutions of living a lie. While her friendship with Jane deepens and her relationship with Liam grows complicated, Rachel fights to reconcile her true self with the constrictions of 19th century society. As their portal to the future prepares to close, Rachel and Liam struggle with their directive to leave history as they found it…however heartbreaking that proves.

Rating: A

Confession time.  When I picked up The Jane Austen Project for review, I really didn’t expect it to be a book I couldn’t put down.  I thought the premise – two time travellers go back to 1815 to meet Jane Austen and secure a previously unpublished manuscript – was interesting (which was why I chose it) but also fraught with potential pitfalls in terms of tone and characterisation. I’m happy to admit that my scepticism was quickly laid to rest and to say that this is a thoroughly entertaining, compelling and unusual story that hooked me in from the first page and kept me glued to it throughout.

Doctor and Austen devotee Rachel Katzman and Professor Liam Finucane, an actor turned academic, were carefully selected and rigorously trained by The Royal Institute for Special Topics in Physics for one particular mission – to go back in time to 1815, meet Jane Austen and locate the manuscript for The Watsons, a novel previously thought unfinished but which a newly discovered letter indicates was actually completed and subsequently destroyed by the author.  Rachel and Liam are charged with bringing back The Watsons and also more of Jane’s letters to her sister, Cassandra, documents which later proved incredibly valuable in piecing together details of the author’s life, and of which only a few survive.  If Rachel can also figure out what caused Jane’s premature death at the age of forty-one, well, that would be a bonus.

The pair arrives, bedraggled and disoriented in a field in Leatherhead, Surrey with a small fortune in forged money hidden under their clothes and a cover story that they are Doctor William Ravenswood and his spinster sister, Mary, recently returned from Jamaica where they have sold off the family coffee plantation.  Unable to secure rooms at the local inn owing to their having no luggage and looking somewhat suspicious besides, they instead hire a post chaise and head to London where they take up residence in a fashionable town house and formulate their plan to get to know Jane Austen’s brother, Henry, who is, at that time, a successful banker.

Posing as acquaintances of a distant Austen relative, they wrangle an introduction to Henry who is everything they expect from what they know of him: good-looking, charming and gregarious, it’s easy to see why Jane referred to him as her favourite brother.  Over the next few weeks, they become part of Henry’s intimate circle and eventually, as planned, are introduced to his sisters and other family members when they visit London.  Cassandra Austen is brusque and most definitely suspicious of her brother’s new acquaintances while Jane is quiet and circumspect, clearly not a woman who allows people to get to know her easily and who doesn’t rush headlong into friendships.  The portrayal of Jane Austen is one of those potential pitfalls I mentioned at the beginning, but I’m pleased to say that this is a very credible portrait of her in which she comes across exactly as I’m sure many of us imagine her to have been – intelligent, witty, considered and insightful.

You can read the rest of this review at All About Romance.