Author: Amanda L.V. Shalaby
Publisher: Crimson Romance
Publish Date: 29 April 2013
Audra Kingsley, a wealthy heiress, may not have seen much of the world, but she knows exactly how she wants her future to play out - and a coming out ball held at her country estate, Kingsley Manor, would suit her just fine. Her father’s wish that she be presented at St. James in London seems silly since she is to marry her neighbor and childhood sweetheart, Lord Crispin Brighton, but she obliges him.
Audra travels to London with her patroness, the eccentric Lady Sutherland, intending to return home as soon as she has curtseyed to the Queen. Unknown to her, Lady Sutherland is in no rush to leave London before the Season is over and intends to show Audra she has more options in the suitor department than Lord Crispin, a second son.
Audra finds herself surrounded by few friends and is forced to attend parties, balls, and operas - all while becoming the object of a secret admirer’s obsession. As Audra struggles to make her way home to her beloved, plans to compromise her into an unwanted marriage are underway.
ExcerptAudra shut the door to her bedroom with the intention of making her way to the ivory-and-gold secretary to write a letter to Lady Brighton of the day’s events. As she walked and began to remove her gloves, a letter addressed to “Lady Audra Kingsley” fluttered to the oriental rug, stopping her in her tracks. She had forgotten all about its appearance at St. James, and how she had hidden it. She hardly knew why she hid it, except that its mysterious nature seemed to require that she do so.
Audra lifted her skirts to kneel beside it and held it over her lap. She wasted no time in opening it now, and read the following words:
Dear Lady Audra,
It was an unfathomable privilege to rest my eyes upon you when you arrived in St. James Square today. You are a heavenly creature, and you cannot imagine my happiness in discovering you may be at Almack’s, as will I. I look forward to the time when I am blessed with the indulgence of seeing you again. Until then —
I am & co,
Your Secret Admirer
Audra is a wonderfully written and sweet romance, with an element of mystery that adds danger. I really enjoyed it, and I felt like the style of writing was great for the time period. It was detailed and obviously well researched.
Audra is a young, pretty and wealthy heiress, so in theory she could have her choice of man, but she is in love with Crispin and has been most of her life. She is persuaded to visit London and make her curtsy to the Queen, with Crispin's aunt as her patroness. She is somewhat reluctant to leave at first, but is reassured that her engagement to Crispin can be made official upon her return.
In London, the amusements of town soon wear thin for Audra who just wishes to return home. A secret admirer starts to make his ardent regard for Audra apparent, and Audra is disheartened that she has received no mail from home. Soon it becomes clear that the secret admirer is disturbingly determined to gain Audra's attention,and that there is some kind of scheme afoot to keep her from home.
I loved Audra's character, I admired her a lot. She was young and I was expecting her to have her head turned by the delights of London, but she remained loyal and steadfast to Crispin and their love. She's very innocent, but sensible and just very likable.
Crispin is also a wonderful character, you can feel how much he loves Audra. He trusts her but is also very protective and worries when he doesn't hear from Audra. The interactions between Crispin and Audra were very innocent, but they had a strong chemistry. They were just very sweet together!
The mystery part of the plot caught my interest, and I was surprised by many of events that unfolded! I certainly never expected it to become rather sinister, but it definitely added to the drama.
I also though it was rather refreshing to read a romance that starts with the hero and heroine already openly in love. A very enjoyable and authentic feeling historical romance!
*I received a review copy from the author, for my honest review. Thank you!
About the Author
Amanda L. V. Shalaby's passion for all things Jane Austen was inspired by her mother and grandmother. She now writes her own English historical romances, and is the author of Rhianna and Audra.
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