August Summer thinks she is a nobody until a London solicitor barges into her employer’s drawing room, revealing not only is she the daughter of an earl but a wealthy heiress as well. Optimistic about a new life, she travels to her ancestral home of Linfield Hall, only for her brother to banish her to London to live with her aunt, a dowager duchess with a reputation.
When Lord Bolton asks him to fetch his illegitimate daughter, solicitor Samuel Brooks does not expect himself to become so invested in the young woman’s debut after wanting nothing to do with dinners and balls before. But as August navigates her way through this new world of the British aristocracy, Brooks is the one who is most dazzled by her unexpected charms.
Since society demands every young girl must marry, August decides she will accept nothing less than someone’s heart in exchange for possession of her newfound fortune. Forced to reexamine his negative views of love and marriage or lose August forever, Brooks soon realizes his heart is the only thing in danger of becoming possessed.
Plot: This well-paced historical romance has a strong main conflict that drives the emotional and physical bonds formed by the main characters. A number of mini-conflicts that the primary and secondary characters experience take narrative time away from the main love story, while some seem introduced and too quickly resolved. Serious subjects are woven into the romantic narrative with care and help to propel and not overwhelm the main happily-ever-after.
Prose/Style: Michaels uses the authentic language of the Regency romance period well, yet at certain points, more modern terms/phrases interrupt the prose's flow. The intimate scenes are passionately written; they do feel a bit rushed and, again, contain a few too many contemporary terms.
Originality: Michaels's engaging historical romance mixes several popular tropes of the genre, but succeeds in adding some truly distinct (and believable) twists along the way. The addition of an excess of conflicts threatens to overwhelm the narrative, but Michaels manages to resolve them neatly, if maybe a bit too quickly.
Character Development/Execution: The main characters have strong chemistry, which is enhanced by powerful physical and emotional connections. The heroine does, at times, feel uneven; she starts off as a strong-willed, bolder-than-usual Regency protagonist, but seems to lose some of that individuality in the second half of the novel. The hero is a complex, distinct character, reflecting a refreshing intellectual bent. The supporting characters are well-rounded and effectively help propel the main romantic narrative forward.
Date Submitted: April 03, 2021
As she prepares for her introduction to society, August finds herself developing feelings for Brooks, who takes responsibility for her well being and ultimately returns her affections—despite his assertion that “I will never marry. Unlike you, I find the idea of family vastly overrated.” The chemistry between them feels tepid, but he’s far from the only character who is instantly and inexplicably charmed the ascendant lady. Aside from those whose self-interests conflict directly with hers, August is almost universally accepted and supported by almost everyone she encounters, including the noblewoman mother who was forced to give her up at birth. These relationships and alliances seem to coalesce around August effortlessly, diminishing the story's tension and complexity, though for some readers this may prove appealing.
Despite the relative dearth of interpersonal conflict, Michaels’s (The Land Steward’s Daughter) romance structure is sound, the dialogue is crisp and polished, and the hero and heroine face legitimate obstacles to their budding relationship that they must overcome. Those who enjoy their romances seasoned with angst should look elsewhere, but readers seeking sweet, upbeat love story with a light touch and a dash of historical flavor will enjoy this Cinderella tale.
Takeaway: Readers looking for an uncomplicated historical love story will be satisfied with this literary confection.
Great for fans of: Sally Britton, Laura Rollins.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A-