~ About the Book ~
Lady Charlotte Featherington is destined for great things on the marriage market. After all, as the beautiful daughter of a marquess, she should have her pick of the eligible nobility when she debuts. She, however, has love at the top of her list of marriageable attributes. And her romantic heart falls hard for one particularly dashing, attentive suitor. Sadly for Charlotte, her noble father intends her betrothed to be someone far more dull.
William Hartwell may be a duke, but he knows he was Charlotte’s father’s pick, not the young lady’s own choice. And the captivating Lady Charlotte does not strike him as a woman who will be wooed by his wealth or title. While she has captured his heart, he has no idea how to win hers in return–and the betrayal and scandal his first wife put him through makes it difficult for him to believe that love can ever be trusted. His only hope is that Charlotte’s sense of responsibility will win out over her romantic notions.
Can a widowed duke and a romantically inclined lady negotiate a future and discover love beyond duty? Will they be able to find healing and hope from the legacy of grace?
Series: #2 Regency Brides series
Release date: 27 June 2017
Publisher: Kregel Publications
~ Excerpt ~
“The Duke of Hartington,” the footman announced.
Charlotte quickly wiped her mouth, chewing hastily. Why did he have to be so punctual? She eyed his outfit, even as he made his bows to the room. Dressed soberly as always, he still presented a neat, elegant figure, which she could only approve.
The duke turned, forcing her to gulp a too-large mouthful. “Lady Charlotte.”
Pain trembled down her throat at the pastry’s slow descent. She curtsied, hoping that would suffice, but Mama’s whispered, “Charlotte!” forced her to mumble around stubborn flaky flecks of pastry, “Duke.”
A tiny piece flew from her mouth. Mortification heated her cheeks.
But rather than the disgust she felt sure to see, his eyes seemed to lighten with unholy amusement, as if he found her a particularly silly creature at the Royal Menagerie.
She swallowed, lifted her chin. Not that it mattered what he thought. She only had to behave respectfully enough to satisfy Mama; then she would be free to go on as before.
Finally released from Mama’s rapid chatter, the duke moved forward. “I gather you would recommend the creamy buns?”
“How did you—?”
He motioned to the side of his mouth, and she mirrored his actions, as if she were in a trance. Removing her finger, she found a spot of cream on her glove’s fingertip. Oh . . .
She turned hurriedly away, desperately wiping at her face before Mama’s eagle eyes became aware of her faux pas.
The duke moved nearer, murmuring, “There is nothing more.”
She nodded, his kind tone drawing moisture to her eyes. Offering him a tight smile, but refusing to meet his gaze, she returned to the settee near the windows.
“Charlotte?” Mama said in a startled whisper. “What is the matter? Why are your cheeks flushed?”
“You do not want to give the duke a bad impression, remember?”
Too late for that.
Fortunately, further enquiry was cut short by the footman’s announcement of Lord Fanshawe.
“Fanshawe, at last. We had begun to give up hope that you’d make it,” Henry said.
“It’s busier than I anticipated,” Lord Fanshawe said, his round of bows far more elegant than the previous arrival’s. His eyes rested warmly on Charlotte. “But I would not have missed this opportunity for the world.”
Her heart fluttered. Lord Fanshawe was truly a gentleman, suavely exchanging politenesses while moving to her side. He would never laugh at her!
“Dear Lady Charlotte! May I say, you look divine.”
“Indeed, you may.”
He smiled, bending over her hand, pressing a kiss, then looked up, his blue-gray eyes watching her carefully.
While no Lord Markham, Lord Fanshawe was eligible, and more importantly, available. Charlotte drew in a deep breath as she removed her hand, removing her gaze to see the duke avert his attention, a crease in his forehead suggesting he did not like what he saw.
She shrugged mentally. The sooner he knew he’d never hold her heart, the better.
~ Review ~
Lovers of Regency romance, look no further. This is one of the most satisfying Regencies I have read in a long time, partly because the style of writing hearkens to that of Austen and Heyer, but mostly because of everything this story holds: I love that it gives the ‘arranged marriage’ trope a thoughtful treatment that I haven’t come across before; I love the way Lady Charlotte matures over the course of the story; and I love that it was full of wonderful period detail, such as Charlotte’s presentation at Court, a visit to Vauxhall Gardens, and the general experiences of both Town and country life.
Like most eighteen-year-olds, Lady Charlotte chafes under that sense of being an adult, yet not quite an adult. She’s been presented at Court and now has some freedom to move about in society, but her mother dictates where she may or may not go, and whom she will associate with and speak to. She comes across as a little petulant and self-absorbed at the beginning of the story, but it is to her credit that she allows her cousin Lavinia’s (The Elusive Miss Ellison) gentle reproofs to take root as she considers the truth that while she may not have as much control over her circumstances as she wishes, she does control how she responds to those circumstances. And thus begins the maturation of the captivating Lady Charlotte.
It was lovely to see Lavinia and Nicholas feature so prominently in this story, and especially to see the way in which Lavinia’s Godly example paved the way for Charlotte to think more deeply about what true love is: that it is more than feelings and emotions; that it is patient, always seeking the good of the other person; that it is steadfast in all things; and that it can be cultivated. Charlotte definitely blossoms through this friendship, as does her relationship with William, hesitant though it may be.
And William…there’s something about the quite ones that always squeezes my heart. They’re harder to pull off in fiction, but Carolyn Miller manages to capture the nuances that bring warmth and vitality to William’s character, despite his less gregarious nature. Sometimes it truly is slow and steady that wins the race!
If you love Regency romance, don’t pass this one up!
I received a copy of this novel from the author. This has not influenced the content of my review, which is my honest and unbiased opinion.
~ Previous Books in the Series ~
* Don’t miss my interview with Carolyn Miller!
~ About the Author ~
Carolyn Miller lives in the beautiful Southern Highlands of New South Wales, Australia. She is married, with four gorgeous children, who all love to read (and write!).
A longtime lover of Regency romance, Carolyn’s novels have won a number of Romance Writers of American (RWA) and American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) contests. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Australasian Christian Writers. Her favourite authors are classics like Jane Austen (of course!), Georgette Heyer, and Agatha Christie, but she also enjoys contemporary authors like Susan May Warren and Becky Wade.
Her stories are fun and witty, yet also deal with real issues, such as dealing with forgiveness, the nature of really loving versus ‘true love’, and other challenges we all face at different times.