Brand new Regency romance from RT Book Reviews Lifetime Achievement Award Nominee Jane Ashford
Time and distance have changed them both…
Quiet and obliging, Mary Fleming and John Bexley marry to please their families and John immediately leaves on a two-year diplomatic mission. Now John is back, and everything they thought they knew about each other was wrong…
It’s disconcerting, irritating—and somehow all very exciting…
“Charm, intrigue, humor and just the right touch of danger.” —RT Book Reviews, on Charmed and Dangerous
“Jane Ashford is an excellent writer—her prose is a joy to read.” —Regency Retro Reads
“Jane Ashford’s romances are bewitching, filled with those elements that delight a reader: good story, intrigue and dynamic tension.” —Romance Communications
Ashford (The Headstrong Ward) once again provides the perfect blend of interesting, emotionally complex, and open-hearted protagonists, supported by their sparklingly witty social allies and vexed by bumbling, blustering political enemies, as they make their way through the complex world of 1816 London's high society. John Bexley, having been called to an awkward two-year government mission in China immediately after his honeymoon, comes home to find his shy wife, Mary, transformed into a "managing female" and she is just as displeased to find that he has become difficult and secretive. But as Mary makes fortunate social connections and begins to value her own skills as a preternaturally insightful portrait artist, and as John slowly yields more information about his clandestine work, their relationship opens up into mutual admiration, support, and delight. In a story of personal growth and excited rediscovery, both characters must overcome scorn and opposition from their family and colleagues in order to come into themselves, appreciate each other, and turn a na vely arranged marriage into a passionate partnership. A preteen boy and a misbehaving monkey add mischief and merriment to this marvelous novel.
Clever and a bit different from other historicals I have read, this was a quick read and quite amusi
Mary Fleming is very much of her time: doing what is expected of her without great regard for her own desires. While in the lower levels of society, she isn’t a sought-after debutante, and her family isn’t all that interested in her or her wishes. Expecting that she will become a companion to an elderly aunt with dozens of cats, she’s unwilling to change her family’s perceptions.
John is also in a similar predicament, not the heir but one of many, he’s not the favorite or brightest, and his family finds him rather hapless and hopeless. A childhood friendship with Mary seems to present solutions for both families: marry them off.
John and Mary start their married life together, until John is offered, and gratefully jumps at the chance for a diplomatic posting, expected to last 2 years. He accepts and moves on to China, leaving his new bride to fend for herself.
For the first time, Mary is left to her own devices and able to think of herself and her wants: and she does some serious soul-searching and growing up. Not to mention her resentment toward her ‘husband’. Through the two years she gains in independence and confidence, and is a far different woman from the retiring and biddable one that was left behind.
John experienced many changes as well, seeing the very un-diplomatic and less than forthright actions of his co-workers helped him to grow up and learn the art of compromise. While not changing his initial impressions of the woman he married, his return did not prepare him for the changes she has made.
Together these two must learn to work on their relationship, or decide on the next steps, as divorce is not an option. The dialogue and growth of both characters, and the slow development of their relationship was charming: both had grown up feeling ‘less than’ their siblings, and the time apart gave them a chance to find their own way. Now, together, they are learning to make a life that allows them a chance at happiness.
Clever and a bit different from other historicals I have read, this was a quick read and quite amusing.
I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.