A PICTURE SAYS A THOUSAND WORDS…
The ton is buzzing about The Beautiful One, a striking figure in a scandalous book of nude sketches. Only two men know the true identity of The Beautiful One, and they are scouring the countryside, determined to find her.
BUT NOT THE MOST IMPORTANT ONES
The unlikely center of the scandal, Anna Black is forced to flee home as disaster looms. Her tomboy’s heart and impertinent tongue serve her well when she meets the most brooding viscount ever to darken a drawing room. Will Halifax, Viscount Grandville, has his reasons for pushing people away, and when his tempestuous teenaged ward arrives on his doorstep, he presses Anna to take on her care. As Anna begins to melt the Viscount’s frozen heart, she knows the more she loves, the more she has to lose. For although Will cares nothing for what makes Society titter, he has yet to see The Beautiful One.
Source: ARC from Sourcebooks Casablanca via NetGalley
This was an enjoyable Regency read that’s a little light on historical accuracy but richer in decent characters. Anna is a strong woman who hasn’t had much luck with the men in her life. Her brother died at sea, her father ignored her, her father’s apprentice spied on her, a creepy marquess is stalking and threatening her, and then along comes Will who is rude and grumpy and actually kind of lovely.
Despite the constant use of Americanisms littered throughout and the fact that the deceased viscountess was called Ginger – I kept hoping that this was a nickname, but if so it’s never mentioned. Never mind that it’s a highly unlikely name for a well-born lady, but Ginger will always be the one that made me cry in Black Beauty, so in my head he used to be married to a horse. Which wasn’t distracting at all, no no – and the unlikeliness of a random woman being employed as seamstress at a school when she has neither references nor any particular sewing talent, there’s something so easy and charming about this book that I didn’t mind too much.
Anna is a likeable heroine, on the run for valid reasons, kind to people who don’t always deserve it, loyal to those she cares for and utterly undaunted by grumpy viscounts. The isolated setting of Will’s estate definitely helped with keeping the historical inaccuracies at bay, leaving me free to enjoy the story. I also appreciated a range of complicated female characters, although a little more detail on Lizzie’s abrupt personality transplant would have been nice. I know it has a lot to do with what she overheard Tommy say, but no one even asks her about it.
Which leads onto the main problem I had with this book – the villains. What was done to Anna is a horrible invasion of privacy. The idea of the book being shown around was nauseating and I could see why the creepy marquess went after her – he’s that sort of man. However, it takes them ages to track her down despite the apparent ease with which they’re doing so – how were they travelling, on foot? It removed all the tension from that side of things from me and left me annoyed whenever that side of the plot raised its head.
The rest of the book, however, I thoroughly enjoyed. I liked Will underneath all his gruff and bluster and felt a bit sorry that everyone was always bothering him. I would have expected it to have been longer than a year since he’d lost his wife, since they all seem so determined he must get on with his life. Despite the instant attraction on both sides, the romance has a nice steady pace to it, heating gradually up to some surprisingly romantic moments. Yes, I could have done with less waffling from Anna about how he doesn’t love her and never could because of his sainted wife, but on the whole it’s well handled and enjoyable.
If you’re looking for something light and easy to read, and you prefer a flavour of history rather than accuracy, then you should hopefully like this. The characters are interesting, the setting is lovely and the romance is enjoyable. I’ll definitely be looking out for more from this author.
The Beautiful One is Out Now!
Visit Emily Greenwood for more details.