Elaina Walker has waited for her childhood sweetheart to return from the Napoleonic Wars for eight years. At five-and-twenty, the pressure to marry well is mounting, despite being unable to forget Will, the Duke of Blackmore's second son.
Will Winter doesn't care much for his father's qualifications for a proper wife. When he returns to England and sees Elaina again, he knows he must have her, despite her meager dowry and precarious standing in society as the daughter of his family's land steward.
As their attraction to one another intensifies, Elaina must make a decision: one that may further damage her reputation and Will's already delicate relationship with his family, or one that will leave her unfulfilled and wondering for the rest of her life.
Michaels steers the story with a steady hand, alternating between Will’s and Elaina’s viewpoints and rendering unusually sympathetic portraits of supporting characters and romantic rivals, including Hunt, Will’s older brother Montgomery, and Montgomery’s young fiancee Clara. The protagonists’ history is fleshed out through excerpts from old letters, and the epistolary basis of their relationship is wholesomely romantic.
But this novel is more than a traditional romance; it examines the work of creating a mature, partnered relationship, too. Classic genre themes are touched upon—the conflict between marrying for duty and for love, scandal and propriety in high society—but the centerpiece is a richly imagined, vibrant celebration of love. Readers will be swept away by this new twist on an old favorite.
Takeaway: This smart, refreshing historical romance, focused less on winning and wooing and more on the evolution of a relationship, will sweep readers off their feet.
Great for fans of: Eloisa James, Georgette Heyer.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A