Author: Isabella Bradford
Publisher: Random House-Ballantine
Rating: 4 stars
Buy Links: Amazon
Type: Novel in Series
Received from Publisher
Blurb: Lord Geoffrey Fitzroy leads a charmed existence. As the second son of the Duke of Breconridge, he has none of the responsibilities of his older brother and all of the advantages, leaving handsome Geoffrey free to enjoy his rakish pursuits. And pursue them he does, leaving hearts fluttering all over London. But one night, at a ball teeming with high society’s most sought-after beauties, only one truly intrigues him: the regal, aloof, and mysterious Miss Serena Palmer.
Magnificently dressed and wearing jewels befitting a queen, the lady is considered the prize of the season, a noble-born heiress raised in India. But even as Geoffrey’s fascination grows, Serena deftly deflects his curiosity—and with good reason: Serena’s exotic past contains a perilous secret that could destroy her. Yet her plan to live in safe solitude is thwarted by her hungry heart, and soon Geoffrey’s passionate seduction finds her blissfully bed—and wed. Will her deception destroy her chance at happiness as Geoffrey’s wife? Or will the devotion of her new husband reveal the only truth worth embracing: her undying love?
Review: Isabella Bradford is a new author to me, but that will soon be fixed! Her lush and vivid descriptions of the life the heroine led in India both drove the story line and captivated this reader; they also formed a large part of the delicate and intimate relationship between the two main characters.
Serena’s character is trapped by her terrible secret–and a past that defines her present. She can never fall in love, get married, and have children. But underneath, she yearns…. Yearns for love, for passion, for LIFE! For seven years in the cold, sterile environment of England, she has tried to mold herself into the perfect model of an English society lady. She’s achieved the demeanor, the polite chatter and the outward accoutrements necessary. She avoids dancing and speaking with most people, preferring the company of her aunt and grandfather. She’d doing everything she can not to give herself away, for if she did, it would mean being thrown out into the streets. She’s certain of that; she’s heard her grandfather’s beliefs on illegitimate children frequently enough. And her nightmares about the horrific last days in India and the fever that took everyone else in the family still keep her awake and keep the past a vivid reminder any time she thinks to forget.
Let’s just say our girl is locked into a pretty depressing life and has no hopes of changing that. Plus, she doesn’t realize it but her Uncle Radnor is going to make it much worse when her grandfather dies if she doesn’t get married. He’s a huge asshole and I shudder to think what he’ll do. WARNING: Soapbox Because remember, a woman’s got no rights to her own money, and the inheritance that Serena came with from her father is actually not.her.own. Surprised? I’m not. Her male guardian is in charge of it. Right now that’s her grandfather–after his death that would be her Uncle. Oh yes. Stepping off Soapbox
Apparently Geoffrey has been a trampy slut up to now. He’s slept his way through all the courtesans and vampy widows and available wives, but he knows better than to sully a virgin from a good family. He’s only twenty-five and doesn’t plan on getting married for at least another ten years. But when he sees Serena across a crowded ballroom he’s smitten immediately. She’s everything that the other women are not–beautiful light golden skin, almond-shaped amber eyes, sultry looks–just like the trip he took to India. She’s exotic and mysterious and he must have her. He makes a bet with his brother than he can get her to dance and he does, secretly delighted that she weaves a sensuous trail across the dance floor that is so different from the others. But she takes him to the garden for a talking to. She isn’t interested in him or anyone! What? Could it be that someone is not excited by his attentions? However, she concedes to meeting him in the park the next day, and he’s hooked. The chase is on!
What follows is a delightful push-pull that’s only marred by our inner view of Serena’s anguish at the possibility of ever truly being with Geoffrey. She can see being with him in passion but never as a marriage partner because that would make her too vulnerable to revealing her secret–a secret that would not only destroy her own reputation but that of her family and Geoffrey’s as well. But as we all know, secrets have a way of coming out whether we like it or not…
There’s angst without being angsty, and the development between the characters is finely drawn and built carefully so that the love between the two is believable and lovely. While it is the second in the series, it works as a stand-alone perfectly. I think that I will go back and read the first one to get a richer picture of Harry and Gus because the characters are interesting and I’d like to know more about them. And while the ending might have seemed incongruous, there were hints built-in along the story so the reasoning was there all along. I’m excited by this new historical author who brings such vivid descriptive prose and exciting story lines to the table! Enjoy!