Normally, I'd begin a review with a brief character and plot summary and analysis. Not this time; the plot, such as it is, is tedious, and the characters leave me completely unmoved. Nothing about this book has so far caught my attention in any way - other than to ask 'what was the author THINKING?' - and so to even attempt any kind of summary would be a charade.
What's wrong with the book, you may ask? Well, first of all, I keep getting jerked out of the story with 'this would NOT happen!' reactions. Jane, a debutante, is a wallflower, with no man showing even the remotest of interest in her. Nothing too unusual there for Regency romances. But then it's revealed that Jane is an heiress. Not even an ordinary heiress, but an heiress to the tune of one hundred thousand pounds... a YEAR. Now, even today that would make her well-off. In the early 1800s, it makes her comparable to the likes of Bill Gates. And *not a single man is interested in her*? In what universe? Every fortune-hunter in the country and beyond would have been queuing up to court her. Even men who didn't think of themselves as fortune-hunters would have been after her. Simply beyond credulity.
Jane also runs her own businesses. Really? In the early 1800s? Not likely - not barely credible. She comes to London without a chaperone... again, not remotely likely. She would never be invited anywhere without a chaperone - not even to the less high-class entertainments that she says is all she is invited to, thanks to her father having been a merchant. Again, I was jerked out of the story too many times by references to her lifestyle.
The hero, going by the unlikely and extremely irritating name of Hellion, failed to attract my interest either. I also failed to understand why he is considered to be any kind of a leader of Society. Perhaps if we had been *shown* him in the best circles, his word hung on by others, his deeds and even his dress copied, I could have accepted that description of him, but as it was we only ever saw him with his friend the spy.
The hero and his friend also seem to wander in and out of Jane's house with impunity. Calling on her, he doesn't wait to be shown in by the butler. He just walks in on her. Ah... no. Maybe in this century, but not then. The hero's friend searches her desk, and is caught in the act by Jane's friend... who does not, apparently, tell anyone, let alone consider calling the police.
And that's before I even mention the irritating, and again anachronistic, 'Dear Diary' entries.
I'm about 100 pages in, and I'm giving up. What point is there in reading on when I can't take the characters and the premise seriously, when I'm being jerked out of the story every couple of pages, and when the plot and characters bore me rigid?
Definitely a dud for Ms Raleigh; a shame, since I've enjoyed some of her other work.