Victorian Romance Steeped in Politics and Personal Pain
If you read a lot of historical romance, you find that most of it is relatively light and fluffy fun. This book is not historical romance in that vein. Rather, the heroine has led a very sheltered and controlled life. Both her father and fiance treat her harshly, trying to break her will and form her into what they want her to be rather than accept who she is. She knows that she is about to marry a brutish older duke, and so she approaches one of her father’s enemies and a notorious rake—her father is the prime minister—and asks him to help her find a kind husband; she wants to learn how to properly seduce a man so she can gain his favor before the clock runs out. In return, she will give him information that would hurt her father.
The author has done a lot of research into this time in Victorian England; she also seems to understand the psychological trauma like the heroine has been through and has her act very appropriately. There is much brewing on the political front, and both the hero and the heroine are caught up in it in some way. The heroin with at times hard to read about because how much she suffered both at her father’s hand and her betrothed’s. She was really in a difficult position, and you could understand why she wanted to break free of her very strict constraints rather than suffer more as the cruel man’s duchess. The hero is a rogue with a good heart, and something within the heroine calls to him, and he knows he has to help her. I also quite enjoyed the painter duchess who works with them on their scheme. The hero really comes through for the heroine, in more ways than one. He’s the only one in her life who has treated her kindly and with respect. It actually was quite lovely to watch her blossom under his care. A very well-done Victorian romance, so long as you don’t expect a light and breezy read.