John Haldane, Earl of Strathairn, is on an urgent mission to find the killer of his fellow spy. Has the treasonous Frenchman, Count Forney, returned to England to wreak havoc? Or has someone new landed on English shores to stir up rebellion in the Midlands? After visiting the young widow of one of his agents, Strathairn strengthens his resolve. A spy should never marry. And most certainly not to Lady Sibella Winborne, with her romantic ideas of love and marriage. Unable to give Sibella up entirely, he has kept her close as a friend. And then weak fool that he is he kissed her… Lady Sibella Winborne has refused several offers of marriage since her first Season years ago — when she first set eyes on the handsome Earl of Strathairn. Sibella’s many siblings always rush to her aid to discourage an ardent suitor, but not this time. Her elder brother, Chaloner, Marquess of Brandreth, has approved Lord Coombe’s suit. Sibella yearns to set up her own household. She is known to be the sensible member of the family. But she doesn’t feel at all sensible about Lord Strathairn. If only she could forget that kiss…
Publisher and Release Date: Knox Robinson Publishing, December 2013
Time and Setting: Regency England
Genre: Historical Romance
Heat Rating: 2
Review Rating: 5 Stars
Review by Anita
Being a fan of Maggi Andersen’s Regency stories, I was not disappointed in this latest addition to her ‘Mayfair Spy’ series. Her heroines are always of their time, in that being dominated by male relatives, husbands and sometimes even suitors, they have to find a way round Regency conventions to live the life they want. Her heroine Sibella, like the author’s other ladies, is no weak and pliable female, but even so, her life is not completely her own as she has familial responsibilities and her position in society to consider.
Sibella is under pressure from her family to choose a suitable husband, the only ambition for a woman in the early 1800’s. Given the freedom of being left her own devices, she would settle on her long time love, John, Earl of Straithairn, a family friend returned from the wars whom she would marry for love.
John has also been doing his duty, to the crown, working as a spy to root out Napoleonic sympathizers who threaten the English government. John has lost a close friend to the cause, leaving a widow and child, so he feels he should deny himself domestic life in case history repeats itself.
He underestimates Sibella, however. Feisty and intelligent, she is prepared to take John on any terms, and the chemistry between them is unmistakable. There is a degree of misunderstanding between the two as John does his best to disguise his feelings and tries to convince Sibella she would be better off without him – which is guaranteed to make her more determined, naturally – but how does a respectable Regency lady get the man she wants and still remain acceptable to society?
It is the misunderstandings and flashes of mutual attraction that keep the reader glued to this story to discover not if, but how Sibella will convince John she would be a perfect wife, while John clings to his resolve not to bring danger into her life as he continues his secret work. Then there is Lord Coombes, Sibella’s unwelcome suitor to complicate things and add a dash of menace.
Miss Andersen is a master at portraying the complicated emotions of an age where married love was not expected, or even sought, where even her character’s respective families come to recognize Sibella and John deserve a chance at happiness. A true romance in every line – lovely.
Anita Davison is a Historical Fiction Author whose latest release, ‘Royalist Rebel’ a biographical novel set in 17th Century England released by Claymore Press under the name Anita Seymour