I learned, after reading this, that there’s a book before this one that introduces us to at least Beatrice. Or, shall I say, Lady Beatrice Sinclair now, after dragging her family out of poverty by marrying Lord Sinclair and having him pay off her father’s debts. He’s cold and sneering toward her, since she threw herself at him and she and her family apparently ran off the woman he was supposed to marry. Bea isn’t really excited about Sinclair, and the day after their wedding and her first night providing wifely duties, she flees to the country to stay with a friend for awhile.
Said friend is living with a friend of her own – who just happens to be the woman Bea shoved aside in order to marry Sinclair. While she and Bea are a little frosty to start, it turns out Bea did her a favor, because now she gets to live with the woman she loves instead of the man she doesn’t.
We then meet Georgina Smith, who is also staying, and Bea takes an immediate dislike to her. To me, it seemed that Bea was projecting, because I found Bea to bea not a terribly nice person: she was snobbish, selfish, sour, and unthinking. What Georgina saw in her was a mystery to me, but I know, instalove.
Speaking of instalove, Bea was charmed by George Smith, Georgina’s cousin and someone she met at her wedding. Such Bea’s luck that George is also staying at this house in the country, too! She hopes to run into him there (spoiler: she does, mainly in the library).
I think what amazed me most about this book is just how many LGBTQI+ people are in this tiny town. It seemed like you couldn’t swing a dead cat around without hitting someone that fit somewhere in that group.
One thing I can give this book is that the principals don’t immediately fall into bed with one another. It’s more of a slow burn of a romance, although I still wasn’t a fan of Bea along the way.
Bea finds out she’s pregnant, and decides she will divorce Sinclair and marry George instead, without bothering to talk to George about it, which leads to some rockiness. Eventually, she disposes of that idea, and admits to Sinclair she is pregnant but shock of all shocks, he’s suddenly turned into an ultra caring, forgiving, and entirely other person in the three months she’s been gone. They come up with a solution, and everyone’s story wraps up like a nice little gift.
It’s always nice to see books with gay+ main characters, but this really struck me as something written as a message book, with long discussions that would be more suitable to 2021 than 1800 England. I’m not opposed to message books per se; my problem comes when virtually every piece of the book is a message the reader is hit over the head with time and again. The ending was rather forced and tidy, but at least there were no loose ends.
I’m going with three stars out of five.
Thanks to Bold Strokes Books and NetGalley for the reading copy.