Publishing Date: August 24, 2021
A fake relationship becomes the real thing in this Regency romance from the bestselling author Publishers Weekly calls “irresistible.”
To protect the dukedom from an incompetent and greedy cousin, Daniel Hayle, Duke of Carlisle, has promised to find a bride in London this season. But the idea of facing ballrooms and card parties is as intimidating as any battlefield in France, including the fight at Waterloo that left him terribly scarred. Perhaps a month on the Isle of Synne can provide him with the practice necessary to find a wife who can tolerate him enough to give him an heir.
Margery Kitteridge has been mourning her husband for four years, and while she’s not ready to consider marriage again, she does miss intimacy with a partner. When Daniel asks for help navigating Synne’s social scene, and they accidentally kiss, she realizes he’s the perfect person with whom to have an affair. As they begin to confide in one another, Daniel discovers that he’s unexpectedly connected to Margery’s late husband, and she will have to decide if she can let her old love go for the promise of a new one.
I was hopeful that the issues I had with this book would smooth out as the story progressed but alas, they did not. The very first thing that caught my attention was the map at the beginning. The Isle of Synne is…. rectangular. It looks like someone plopped the state of Oregon into the sea. I had some misgivings at that point but decided to press on.
The prose is… overwritten and very much telling (at length) rather than showing. There’s nothing obviously wrong with it but I just found it off-putting and felt like I was hacking my way through a thicket trying to find the story. The characters also didn’t have a lot of depth to them and seemed very superficial, as did the instant physical attraction between Margery and Daniel. All of their conversations were painfully awkward and seemed to take twice as long as necessary with all the apologies and repetition.
Eventually I couldn’t force myself through any more of the awkwardness and decided to move on to something more enjoyable. It’s possible that those who aren’t such sticklers as I for writing style will still enjoy this.
*Thanks to NetGalley and Forever (Grand Central Publishing) for providing an e-arc for review.