On the hunt for his runaway sister, Lord Richard Ellerby stops a suspicious carriage at gunpoint and is shocked to be mistaken for a thieving highwayman. When the attractive woman inside makes him an offer to court her for pay, Richard refuses and sends her on her way. But the determined lady soon finds him again and proposes an even more outrageous offer: wedding her in a marriage of convenience.
Desperate to find love with a man of her own choosing, Lady Brenna Harrington will do anything to hold on to her freedom, even if it means propositioning a dangerous highwayman. If she can distract her father with a prospective husband who only wants to marry her for her fortune, Brenna will have time to do things her way. While her plan may be just crazy enough to work, her unsuitable suitor has other more pleasurable strategies in mind.
For generations that have come and gone and for eras long past, the lives of women have never been easy and societies have long sought to keep them bound by rules and regulations that go all the way from how they hold their forks to how they dress, who they can associate with, how they bear their children and to whom to they belong. Seldom have women belonged to themselves. That was certainly not the case in 19th century England and it was especially true among the aristocracy. The heroine of this story is a case in point. Scheduled to marry a man she loathed and one her father was bent on shackling her with, Benna Harrington was desperate to employ desperate measures. Hard to be believe she would even proposition an highwayman. Little did she realize that he was only masquerading as one. In truth he was seeking his sister who he knew had been led astray by an unprincipled and gold-digging aristocrat.
This is truly what one would call a historical romantic romp–full of craziness and repartee that simmers sometimes and sizzles at others. It is filled with fun people and those who make one’s hair stand on end. It is a classic clash between the independent spirit of a beautiful, intelligent, repressed woman and the norms of society which are threatening to upend her life completely. Yet in the midst of all this is a man whose attraction to her is unwanted and sometimes resented, yet that is indeed the core of the historical romance genre. Needless to say, those who have read other books by this author will recognize that she handles this genre with a deft hand and has written a really delightful novel. There’s a good deal of craziness here, plots and counter-plots, people whose idea of life is inflexible and intractable. But cast against them is the free spirit as represented by Brenna and her determination to find her own way and ultimately marry a man who will love her for who she is and not for her money.
Historical romance fans will really like this book and find it a pleasurable reading experience. It is light-hearted while being filled with the nooks and crannies of inventive thinking on the part of the heroine, and because she is determined to never give up, it means that the reader will have a great time figuring out how it’s all going to come out.
I happily give it a rating of 4 out of 5.
You can read more from Judith at Dr J’s Book Place.