Title: A Lady’s Secret
Author: Jo Beverley
Review number: 55
Genre: Historical romance/Georgian
Stand alone/Series: The latest installment in the Malloren Family series.
This one starts with a cursing Italian nun in a French Inn , circa 1764: “Maledizione” she says and immediately grabs the attention of Robin Fitzvitry, Earl of Huntersdown. Robin is on his way to England after spending some time at Versailles and is utterly and completely bored when he comes across Sister Immacualta, a nun on the run who needs help getting to the very same place he is headed to.
Petra d’Averio is no nun, but she did spend some time at a convent in Italy with her mother, trying to hide from an ex-lover who is bent on his pursuit of her. But after the death of her mother , she decided to go in search of the father she never knew – one who has no idea she exists. Will he accept her, will she make it there safely, will she resist the temptation that is the deliciously cute and savvy Robin?
This is a road romance from France to England, through many small villages and on their way to their final destination they face many dangers including their own feelings for each other. Robin is an Earl and therefore needs to marry aristocracy and since they don’t know if Petra’s father will ever acknowledge her existence, they might not be able to be together.
A Lady’s Secret has a very similar start as My lady Notorious, which is one of my favourite books and I have no problems with that – It was a great set up then it is a great set up now. They also share the same farcical feel, since Petra pretends to be a nurse and never tells Robin who her prospective father is and Robin presents himself not as an Earl but just as a regular Sir – he likes to play down his position not only because he likes to travel incognito but also because he is rather immature, with little sense of responsibility for his Earldom.
I had a great time reading the book, it was rather funny and quirky to begin with – Robin travels with three sidekicks , two servants, one English and one French who are always at odds with each other but also with his Papillon Dog, Coquette, a weapon of mass seduction in the French court. But right about page 200, after their first (and ONLY ) sex scene they get separated for about 130 pages or so. This bit is where once again, Jo Beverley masterful historical research comes into play – when Petra has to walk all through the countryside to reach her father’s home. The descriptions of life in England back then and how the villagers fared were very interesting. This is also when Robin goes through the process of maturing.
Two things come to mind with regards to the final one third of the book though– all of this happens in only a matter of days and part of me thinks that it is improbable that the changes Robin goes through could eve happen in such a short time and that the magic of the first half of the book was in the delightful interaction between Robin and Petra and that was completely absent for far too long.
This is another book in the Malloren series and you may be wondering : what does it have to do with that great family? Well, one of them did a Great Tour of Europe about 20 years ago as it was the thing to do back then for young aristocrats – part of their education, shall we say and had a…passing fling which had a surprising outcome. Ten guineas if you guess who the happy daddy is.
Notable quotes/parts: The first 250 pages are amazing. It was funny, quirky , the dangers that they faced in their trip added some exciting action scenes.
Rating: 7, Very Good.
Reading next: To Taste Temptation by Elizabeth Hoyt