Author: Christina Brooke
Christina Brooke writes historical romance novels that are witty and fun as well as tantalising. The Greatest Lover Ever is her 5th book, and my first of hers. All five of the books seem to be loosely connected but they are stand alone romances set in Regency England.
Regency England, a time so very different from ours. I can’t help but admire the women of the period, especially those with character and backbone who aren’t content to sit back and let their entire lives be ruled. A time of marriages made for many reasons, love often being sadly missed from the equation. Marriages for connection, money, property, titles – all very convenient but not always conducive to the happiness of those being wed.
Georgiana Black and the Earl of Beckenham have just such an engagement until an argument sees it called off in the heat of the moment and the Earl to proud to try and change things.
Six long years later the Earl of Beckenham decides it’s time he found a wife and settled down. The mate he will choose this time will be demure and easily lead, she will have pretty manners and be quite the lady. He has been burned already by a betrothal to a fiery goddess and it didn’t suit his staid and noble countenance, the two were far from suited. Right from the beginning you have to wonder if after being so close to permanently entangled with fire he will ever be satisfied with the demure and dare I say tame mate he is looking for.
Part of the lure of the match between Georgiana Black and the Earl of Beckenham is the fact that she will inherit Cloverleigh, a country seat that was once part of his property and their union will reunite his estate. Sometime after the engagement is called off Georgiana’s father changes his will so that Cloverleigh will no longer pass to Georgiana but to her younger half sister Violet, who is almost ready for her coming out season and the finding of a suitable match.
Georgie, as she is fondly known, and Beckenham have spent six years trying to avoid one another but now that Violet’s name has been added to the list of suitable candidates for Beckenham’s bride they find themselves together much more than either of them find comfortable. Georgie knows it’s a bad idea but she is devoted to her younger sister and thinks that the pair would make a good match; she also doesn’t want to see her sister jeopardise any of her chances and when Violet begs her to keep her company she can hardly refuse.
The Greatest Lover Ever is an entertaining read, it kept me engrossed and always waiting to see what was next but it was also very frustrating and at times I found it tedious. Much of this I think is due to a personal pet peeve of mine, communication! Much of the conflict rolling through the book could be easily solved with a decent and honest conversation, having said that I realise that if that had happened in the first place when it should have we would have skipped half the story so it was obviously necessary.
Georgie is a fabulous character, she is strong willed, headstrong and has set her mind on spinsterhood. She is looking forward to the time she will become eligible for her inheritance and be able to set up a house for herself, away from her stepmother and the trustees of her estate. She’s decided she doesn’t need a husband who will try to control her when she can be independent. An attitude possibly a little before her time for a twenty-four old but one I quite admire. She doesn’t want to be married off to become someone else’s property, she doesn’t need to make a suitable match as her inheritance leaves her independently wealthy and the only property she is truly attached to has been left to her sister.
Beckenham is an arrogant titled gentleman with a strong sense of honour and even more pride, which has been his downfall in the past. He is determined to face this search for a bride from an intellectual perspective making it all come across a little like a sale of prime horse flesh. A horrible thought to even consider, all those eligible young ladies brought together to use their wiles to capture an Earl. All the while sharpening their claws on one another behind closed doors.
Much has changed for the one time betrothed in the past six years but it seems once they are in close proximity many old habits begin to resurface. Georgie has tamed her nature and kept her reputation in tact but it seems she is willing to risk it all again without realising the affect she has on any warm-blooded male in the vicinity. She seems very sure of herself but we might just find that there’s more to young Georgie Black than meets the eye if anyone cares to look a little harder.
The story flows nicely with enough intrigue and enough unanswered questions to keep us involved. Violet makes an interesting secondary character with her secretive storyline of her own. She seems easily swayed but the keen intelligence in her eye is not to be mistaken and she has ways of getting what she wants.
One of the most interesting aspects of the story is the way that the upper class, ever so proper life of the Ton blends so seamlessly with debauchery and yet often the players come out unscathed. Who are these women behaving so basely and how do they get away with their reputations intact, a masquerade ball can not hide all ills. Also, it intrigues me how dowager old aunts can make it their life’s work to know everything about all the eligible singles in a wide area to ensure they can make suitable matches for all of their family. Okay, so they don’t seem to have a love life of their own to worry about but trying to keep track of a whole family – too much hard work by far.
Christina Brooke hooked me into the family with The Greatest Lover Ever and I am intrigued to find out more about the minor players so I may need to search out the Ministry of Marriage trilogy as well as the first of The Westruthers books.