A review by Vanessa.
The new home of Harry Haversham, Lord Rosse, is full of secrets. It is only natural seeing as how Harry used to be a spy, working for the Home Office, serving King and country. Now Harry is a family man in search of something even more important: a wife. After the death of his first wife in childbirth, Harry is not looking for some young title-hungry girlish maiden to throw his life into chaos. He needs a good woman to help him rebuild his new home. But Harry will have to keep a few secrets from the new Lady Rosse. To avoid someone marrying him only for his title, he won’t tell her he is a lord until after they are married; and perhaps it would be best not to mention his five children. First Harry must find the perfect woman. Someone of strong character, good humor, of some age, who loves children, and isn’t to unpleasing to the eye… Someone just like Frederica Pelham. But of course, the lady has one whopping large secret of her own. And Harry’s spying days might not be as far behind him as he thought.
Frederica Pelham, Plum to her friends, isn’t quite sure she is doing the right thing when she answers the advertisement in the paper looking for a wife, but she hasn’t much choice. After being ruined by her first husband, whom it turns out couldn’t be her husband since the lying charlatan was already married, she has been cast out of polite society. Trying to care for herself and her orphaned niece has become impossible, and Harry seems like an answer to her prayers. He is handsome, and as it turns out, a lord who doesn’t seem to know anything about her troubled past. It doesn’t feel right not to share the secret but Plum has to do what she can to survive and to be a good mother to her suddenly five stepchildren! Besides, she has an even darker secret that could ruin them all if anyone were ever to find out. Plum wrote a book, but not just any book. She wrote the most popularly banned book that is all the rage with high society known as the Guide to Connubial Calisthenics, and if anyone ever found out the fallout would be more catastrophic than ever. She has to do everything she can to keep Harry from finding out about her past and her secrets, for her sake and the sake of her new family. But how long can secrets really last?
MacAlister’s ability to shape a plot line is always fantastic. It is not just about her ability to develop lovable and interesting characters, but the way she weaves together the experience of discovering her characters with the overarching romantic story is really wonderful. In this novel, she does just that with the intriguing backstory of Harry, and his experience as a spy and his very entertaining five children. Plum, as well, is a strong character whose own backstory is fascinating and makes for a complex twist in the romance set up between the two of them. I really like how MacAlister writes in the historical romance genre, setting up the obvious tropes of the time, while still allowing her lead female character to show uncommon strength, tenacity, and determination. Having read so many of McAlister’s modern paranormal romances, I remember being very eager to see how she fit her classic humor and writing style into the historical romance genre. This one was my first of her historical romances, and she did not disappoint. The romance is passionate, heat-filled, and satisfying, but there is so much more to the story the reader will discover through the mysterious twists and turns. A great read!
My rating: 5/5 stars.
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