He's a respectable barrister...
She's the most scandalous woman in England...
Wilhelmina Hewitt knows she's in for a rough ride when she agrees to help her husband get a divorce. Nothing, however, prepares her for the regret of meeting Mr. Dale on the eve of her downfall. No other man has ever sent her heart racing as he does. Unfortunately, while she'll soon be free to engage in a new relationship, no upstanding gentleman will have her.
James Dale would never pursue another man's wife. Or a woman reputed to be a deceitful adulteress. Furious with himself for letting the lovely Mrs. Hewitt charm him, he strives to keep his distance. But when her daughter elopes with his son, they're forced into a partnership where passion ignites. And James soon wonders if there might be more to the divorcée than meets the eye.
Mr. Dale and The Divorcée Book 1 in the The Brazen Beauties Series by Sophie Barnes is a great way to start a new series.
Wilhelmina Hewitt graciously gave her husband and her friend George a divorce when he asked for it and even agreed to his publicly naming her an adulteress at a ball in order to obtain the divorce. She has become a branded woman and subject of untold snickers and gossip! I can imagine she didn’t think the ramifications through very clearly, but out of devotion to George agreed blindly to this plan.
Attending the same ball was James Dale, a noted and respected barrister in London, with his friends. He is introduced to the loveliest, most charming woman he’s ever met and she awakens something in him he thought long dead, that is until he finds out she’s married. When her husband proclaims she is an adulterous for all the room to hear he is shocked beyond belief. And yet she had been so charming, so much so that he had been taken with her. But an adulteress, never! You see he had been the cuckolded husband himself, immediately reminded of his wife Clara. He was angry at himself for falling for her charms and her wickedness.
Upon meeting James, Wilhelmina too felt something she’d never felt before. She loved George to be sure but their relationship was always one of friendship, they were never in love but lived a marriage of convenience. She rather regretted that she hadn’t me James earlier in her life. Her reputation ruined she knew that no self-respecting man would ever want her. Enemies they had become and then they were forced to work together when his son Michael and her daughter Cynthia falls in love and they elope to Gretna Green to get married.
This is an emotional story that highlights the stark differences and double standards of adultery and divorce in the Regency period. It’s a convoluted story of two people trapped in circumstances brought on by their pasts. I could certainly understand James feelings upon finding that Mina was an adulteress but felt he was awfully cruel to her. Mina was an exceptional character, selfless and loyal to the bitter end. She was willing to sacrifice her self to ensure George’s happiness. No she had become a pariah she carried her fate with it amazing grace. What is an independent woman with great strength and endurance. James was a wounded man, still reeling from the betrayal of his wife, a man who had sadly lost his belief in love.
The story is beautifully written and so wonderfully told with perfect pacing so as to showcase the developing friendship between James and Mina, the emotions they feel, and the growth they both experience as their journey continues. I found Michael and Cynthia delightful. I love the fact that James and Mina were older. My heart went out to Mina watching her endure the judgement of others. To say I was emotionally involved in the characters and story was a gross understatement. The duel point of view was done with such finesse and the author has an incredible talent for writing. I’ve not read one of her stories I didn’t enjoy but this is the best yet. This is a story not to be missed!
Thank you so much Ms. Barnes for this wonderful story of a love that defied the odds.