2016, 264p, Clean Regency Romance
My Rating=5 Stars
Source: Received a copy from the publisher for an honest review
Out of the war and into another, Captain Lord Anthony Hargreaves finds the politics of romance to be as uninviting a battle as the one that nearly cost him his life in Badajoz, Spain.
Wounded both mentally and physically from the Peninsular War in 1812, Anthony returns home to find that his older brother has died, placing Anthony next in line to inherit the estate. But he’s not ready for such responsibilities. And when Anthony’s dying father pleads with him to marry and produce an heir to preserve the family title, it nearly sends Anthony over the edge; nevertheless he dutifully faces a long line of hopeful young ladies who await him. No one grabs his attention, though, like Amelia Clarke, his mother’s stunning companion, who is off-limits for the earl. But when Anthony unwittingly puts Amelia in a compromising situation, he dedicates himself to protecting her reputation.
But the horrors Anthony faced while away from home have left him feeling broken and tormented. And Anthony finds himself drawn to Miss Clarke, the only one who can chase away his demons, but he must overcome the hostility of a society driven by class, a jealous duke bent on revenge, and himself—for could Amelia ever really love a haunted man?
Amelia Clarke is a paid companion to Lady Ashworth. At the beginning, Lord Ashworth is on his death bed after having lost his oldest son and heir in a horseback riding accident and then recently, learning that his other son, Captain Lord Anthony Hargreaves, was killed in Spain. It's a somber time in their home. Then, Anthony shows up at their door, alive and healing and, immediately, everything changes. When his father is well enough to speak with him, he encourages him to quickly find a wife and produce an heir. Anthony is a bit overwhelmed with his new responsibilities and this just adds to it. He enjoys Amelia's company and while she's helping him through a difficult time, they get caught in a situation where he feels the need to protect her reputation. It's not an easy situation for anyone and there are some twists and turns along the way to a happy resolution.
I love a good, clean Regency romance and this book delivered! Amelia is easy to like. She is an orphan who is taken in by the Ashworth's because of her association with an acquaintance of her mother's, Lady Walmsley. She is kind, educated, proper, and willing to help others regardless of what it may cost her personally. Anthony is also easy to like. He is trying to adjust to a life he wasn't prepared for while also dealing with nightmares from being involved in a war. His friendship with Amelia is natural and they get along well from the beginning. He doesn't get hung up on her social status and whether or not he should get to know her better. I loved their chemistry and how their relationship developed.
There were other great characters, too. There were petty girls who were jealous of Amelia's relationship with Anthony, and another who should have been but wasn't. There was also a Duke who was angered when a situation didn't go his way. Lady Walmsley made an appearance so we got to know more about her. Lord and Lady Ashworth loved Amelia but needed time to adjust to the new situation they found themselves in. I also enjoyed the underlying mystery. I thought it wrapped up a little quickly and easily but was okay with it since I loved the rest of the book. If you enjoy Regency, you won't want to miss out on this one!
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