Shy and scholarly William has been in love with the now newly-widowed Amelia since they were children. He wanted to make an offer for her when he was still at University but for whatever reason didn’t and she married a man old enough to be her grandfather. Now that she’s come out of her mourning, he has his chance… assuming his awkwardness and preternatural ability to say just the wrong thing at the wrong time don’t get in his way. Maybe dressing up as a dashing highwayman at a costume ball will do the trick?
Beautiful and brilliant Amelia has always loved William. She finds his scholarly bent and love of antiquities charming rather than off-putting, it’s why at Lord and Lady Melbourne’s masquerade ball in 1794 she decides to dress as Cleopatra. Unfortunately, too many other men get the wrong idea setting the stage for misunderstanding and conflict.
This is a short read with charming characters which unfortunately suffers from a bit of a pacing problem and a historical Easter egg problem. Like seriously I spent much of the book trying to pin down the time period since it definitely wasn’t typical Regency which the cover suggests. Like when I first thought it had been pinned down, it wasn’t. The author kept dropping Easter egg after Easter egg to the point where it became a fourth wall break because I had to readjust my thinking each time a new tidbit of information was added. JUST ADD THE DATE AT THE BEGINNING AND IT WOULD HAVE BEEN FINE!!!
It was only in the author’s note at the end when I got an actual date. The book suffers from too much name dropping of various highwaymen, prominent historical figures, and places. In fact there’s a whole section in the beginning where William and his friends argue over which highwayman they are which goes on for way too long and is way too confusing. Like I get it, you want to include all of the research that you did into your novel. But take it from me, don’t. First off, if you make one little mistake it throws the whole of the book into disarray. And the author did make a mistake (mostly related to the first Lord and Lady Melbourne) as well as stating that it was alternatively hot and cold at night. It’s only hot at night in England in July and August… and the season is well over then. (Pro-tip to authors: The London Season generally took place January to mid-June and followed when Parliament was in session. It rarely ran later. The Little Season ran from Late September to November. It didn’t take place over the heat of summer (because plague and sickness) and it didn’t happen in December. This has been your random info portion of the review.)
There were things I liked in this.
I really really liked William with his perpetual foot-in-mouth syndrome. He was adorable. And sweet. And I wanted to pet him on the head like the confused puppy that he was. I got hints that William might be on the Autism spectrum but considering that the diagnosis didn’t exist in the Late Georgian Period there’s no clear way to be certain. I also liked that he was most definitely a beta hero. No alpha asshole posturing and toxic masculinity from him. It was a refreshing change of pace.
Seriously. I am so sick of alpha assholes. Can we please chuck toxic masculinity out of romance in 2020? Please?
I also really loved Amelia. She’s fun and intelligent and kind. I loved that she generally got herself out of her predicaments and didn’t need a man to save her. She was quick-witted and a lovely foil to the many TSTL heroines who populate regencies. Like trust me, I love it when women get themselves out of predicaments. I love it when they solve problems that the hero creates. Can we get more of this please?
Frankly I wanted more of William and Amelia’s story.
Unfortunately while things end happily, the story doesn’t feel complete. The whole thing takes place over a single night but there’s a lot that goes on. (To the point where the timing doesn’t work but I’m going to let it go.) The ending was rushed. It’s implied that the leads are going to get together, but it’s a solid happy for now and not a true HEA. Worse, a secondary conflict was introduced but not resolved (I suspect it will carry over the rest of the series) which led to the feeling of incompleteness.
In all, this is a decent novella with a few rough spots. It’s not a bad read. And I really really loved the leads. And for that I give this:
If this is your jam, you can get it here.