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Reviewed by Fiona Ingram for Readers' Favorite
The Earl of Salt Hendon, with good looks, fortune, and the reputation of a lover par excellence, could have any woman he pleased just by crooking his little finger. So when he seemingly lost his reason and married a squire’s daughter, Jane Despard, Society is aghast. Despite being a noted beauty, Jane’s reputation is clouded, an incident in her past having cast a shadow over her marital prospects. What Society does not know is that Jane and the Earl share a dreadful secret: a past encounter that brought them both nothing but misery, misunderstanding, and mistrust. Their marriage four years after that encounter is sealed so that the Earl can discharge a promise to a dying man and Jane can save her stepbrother from financial ruin. Jane holds out the hope that the Earl will finally come to love her. Her husband, alas, is deeply influenced by the scheming Diana, Lady St. John, widow of his cousin and the mother of his nominated heir, his young godson. Can Jane’s love prevail and will the Earl finally open his eyes to the Machiavellian maneuvers of the wicked Lady St. John?
It is the year 1763 and King George III is on the throne. Georgian aristocratic life is synonymous with elegance and a devil-may-care pleasure, and the upper classes enjoy a kind of amorality in their love lives. Men, and women, are inclined to take their pleasure where they choose. It is this angle, the tawdry underbelly of high society that the author captures so brilliantly in this eminently readable novel. The rakish, raucous character of the Georgian period is contrasted superbly with the sophistication of the age. The author has created a love story that fans of historical romance will relish. Details of the politics, manners, social mores, and dress are deftly interspersed within the plot lines to fully flesh out the era and the people in it. The author’s characterization, even with secondary characters, is accurate and believable. The plot is complex and interesting; the author guides the reader though the maze of misunderstandings without ever giving the game away. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it.