Violet has always played the role of dutiful daughter. Quiet, biddable, accommodating and inobtrusive. Until she discovers that her parents’ indulgence is outweighed by their mercurial nature. After her sister was offered to a duke like a sacrificial golden lamb, Violet mistakenly assumed that the family had secured the status it had been denied because of the gleam of its new money.
“Her parents wanted her to host dinner parties and show Mrs, Astor that they were very much worthy of her guest list. … She would be pretty and mild and never utter a word that would cause anyone the slightest discontent.” (Ch. 5)
Violet must make a choice : to marry the odious Lord Ware or to run away. “The red shone bright against the white of her palm. In that moment, that’s how she felt. A tiny bloom of insurrection in the midst of conformity.” (Ch. 5)
Her choice is clarified by the alluring, inscrutable Lord Leigh. He is reputed to be a scoundrel. Yet she dreams of kissing him. When he offers his assistance in the guise of a getaway conveyance, she reluctantly accepts it. After all, they are not bound for the same destination, and she does not have the wiles to tempt him.
But Christian, Earl of Leigh, is not immune to her wiles. He is simply adept at hiding his attraction. He has nefarious plans, and he will not compromise Violet until forcing her hand is unavoidable. But all of his plans go awry when they meet with tragedy on the road. Christian’s purpose and desire coalesce when the possibility of losing Violet because of his selfish, reckless behavior becomes all too real.
I loved watching the growth of feelings between Violet and Christian. I loved his empowerment of her and the ways that she soothed his battered heart and dug her way beneath his armor. This wonderful story has so many of my favorite romance tropes: roadtrip, forced proximity, courageous rescue, reforming the rake, writer heroine.
The author’s meticulous research into the rights and situations of women in the late nineteenth century, the intricacies of the transatlantic trade as the Industrial Age reached its heyday, and the very real bargains that happened between Gilded Age American heiresses and members of the English aristocracy is evident on every single page. I highly recommend this beach read if you want to lose yourself in a story that celebrates true love as the only gold worthy of appreciation.