Samantha Grace is a new author to me, and this book is the fourth in her debut series, Beau Monde
. According to her bio, Publisher's Weekly has called her "fresh and romantic" with subtle humor and charm. I enthusiastically agree.
Lady Vivian Worth is a classic hoyden, but not the stereotypical kind often found in Regency romances. When it's necessary, she is perfectly capable of behaving like any other polite young lady, but when no one else is around her true personality tends to escape its bonds. She is the younger sister of a marquess, and he has kept her in the country living with an older cousin. Apparently, Lady Vivian was caught in a compromising situation, and her brother is trying to keep it quiet. At the same time, the brother has agreed with the elderly Duke of Foxhaven to marry Vivian off to the duke's heir. When the duke dies, his heir is having none of it, but the brother insists that he honor his father's bargain.
Foxhaven arrives unexpectedly at Vivian's home and at first mistakes her for a milkmaid. When they are forced to dine together that night, Vivian tries to disguise herself, but the duke knows exactly who she is. The next morning, she tries to pass herself off and a milkmaid, gamely but ineffectually attempting to milk a cow. There's a bit of Lucy (without any Ethel, alas) going on here. As she milked the cow, I couldn't help but think of Lucy stuffing her face with candy at the chocolate factory.
At this point, the story could have followed the pattern of countless other Regency romances, but it didn't. Granted, before it's over, there is mistaken identity, a treacherous "friend," a smarmy gentleman, a gossipy old biddy, a kidnapping, and a seduction. But they're handled very creatively and with originality. And while there are misunderstandings between Lady Vivian and the duke, they aren't allowed to last very long.
Lady Vivian turns out to be intrepid, loving, and sweet. And Foxhaven, who has been overwhelmed by health problems and guilt at neglecting his ducal duties, finds that Lady Vivian is just the medicine for what ails him.
This book has just the desired mixture of romance, drama, and fun. If that's the kind of book you're looking for, I highly recommend it.
Thanks to Netgalley and Sourcebooks for a free eARC in return for an candid review.