Top critical review
9 people found this helpful
on 6 May 2007
After brief, but brilliant, appearences in both 'Splendid' and 'Dancing at Midnight', William Dunford returns for a starring role of his own. Wealthy, handsome and irrepressibly charming, Dunford has always been a much sought after member of the 'ton', but when he comes into an unexpected title, life as he knows it is about to change. And not just because he's now even more eligible.
Henrietta ('call me Henry, everybody does') Barrett has been running the Stannage estate for years. She loves the life she leads, loves Stannage Park, love Cornwall and isn't about to let some society fop saunter in and ruin everything. So, even though Dunford is far from what she expected, she launches a campaign to drive him screaming back to London.
But Dunford isn't so easily fooled, and he sets about charming his young estate manager in a counter offensive of his own. For a young woman who wears breeches and lacks any knowledge of how to be a young lady, it's so nice for Henry to have someone pay attention to her. When he buys her new dresses, seeming to care for the person inside, she is so overwhelmed by his thoughtfulness that she can't help falling a little in love with him.
Dunford finds himself equally charmed by his little estate manager - until he discovers that she's his ward. Duty and responsibilty, both new concepts to him, crowd in to ruin the easy friendship that has grown between them.
Yet, when he drags Henry to London, it is him rather than her who soon begins to regret it.
This tale of transformation - from country hoyden to society miss, and carefree rake to responsible landowner - manages to combine humour, humiliation, love and heartbreak as both main characters discover that their previously perfect lives have in fact been flawed all along.
This tale is sweet and charming - although Henry's transformation is a little too quick and smooth, and as other reviewers mention, the 'conflict' is quite pointless - but in traditional JQ style, it's still enjoyable. For lighthearted Regency, you can't go far wrong.
(Oh, and fans of Ned Blydon should get hold of the 'Where's My Hero?' anthology, to see him find a HEA of his own.)