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Publisher: Avon Books
Date Released: June 28, 2016
Series: Keeping Up with the Cavendishes #2
In the second novel of Maya Rodale’s enchanting Keeping Up with the Cavendishes series, an American heiress finds her reputation—and heart—in danger when she travels to London and meets a wickedly tempting rake.
Lady Amelia is fed up with being a proper lady and wishes to explore London, so one night she escapes . . . and finds herself in the company of one Alistair Finlay-Jones. He’s been ordered by his uncle to wed one of the American girls. How lucky, then, that one of them stumbles right into his arms!
Alistair and Amelia have one perfect day to explore London, from Astley’s Amphitheater to Vauxhall Gardens. Inevitably they end up falling in love and making love. If anyone finds out, she will be ruined, but he will win everything he’s ever wanted.
When Amelia finds out Alistair has been ordered to marry her, he must woo her and win back the angry American girl. But with the threat of scandals, plural, looming . . . will he ever catch up to the woman he loves?
This was a delightful read though there were times where I found myself getting frustrated with the characters and I had a bit of a problem with the timeline of some of the events in the book. I shall admit that I had a bit of a high expectation with this story because I loved the first book in the series immensely, so I am a bit sad that I can’t give this book a full five paws. But this isn’t to say that it is not an enjoyable read or that I wouldn’t recommend that fans of Rodale’s novels or historical romance give this a read. In fact I would encourage you to read it, especially if you’ve read the first book in the series!
So let me start this review off by saying that Amelia’s book takes place during and a bit after events in Lady Bridget’s Diary. By this I mean, in Lady Bridget’s Diary the reader is told that Amelia disappears for an entire day, but no explanation is given to where she was and what she did during her time away from Durham House. This book details Amelia’s adventures during that day as well as covers other events that happen to Amelia during her time in London. As such, I would suggest that newcomers to the Cavendish series start with the first book. Though you could read this one first since the primary focus is on Amelia, be prepared for some minor spoilers from the first book if you do.
Out of all of the Canvendish siblings, Amelia was the only one who I had problems connecting with in the first book, so while I was looking forward to continuing the series because I loved Bridget’s story so much, I went into this one with some expectations while also prepared to possibly grit my teeth where Amelia was concerned. It isn’t that I don’t like Amelia, it’s more that I found her attitude and behavior to be exhausting after a while. I like that she refuses to conform to London society standards, that she’s not afraid to be outspoken or eschew proper behavior. Her rebellious nature is tempting on many levels, but it can also be tiresome and gets old really fast. As a result, I had a bit of a love/hate relationship with her in this book. On the one paw I wanted her to be able to live her life the way she wanted, but on the other I wanted her to grow up and see things from her siblings points of view. In the end I really wanted her to find a balance between being the wild girl that she is at heart and being a well-mannered young woman in London society.
Alister also had a tendency to drive me crazy at times. While I understand that he feels responsible for what happened in his past and as such is driven to make amends, I wanted to grab him by the shoulders and give him a good shake while telling him to man up where his uncle was concerned. There’s doing something because it is what you want to do and then there is doing something because you feel like you have to in order to please someone else, and in the case of Alister, his actions were based primarily on the latter rather than the former. Despite this, Alister is a likeable character. He’s got a mischievous side which compliments Amelia’s and he knows how to be responsible, even if it is to a fault sometimes. He’s just enough of a wild card to guarantee that life wouldn’t be dull between him and Amelia while also being a stable influence for them both. He strikes me as one who would let Amelia do what she pleases provided it doesn’t bring harm to her or anyone else and isn’t too crazy.
I really liked how Rodale tied this book in with the previous novel in the series. The set up was perfect and it was great to find out what it was that Amelia had gotten up to when she disappeared from the house that day. It was also enjoyable to see previous events and scenes from Lady Bridget’s Diary through Amelia’s eyes. I ended up having a greater appreciation for the Cavendish siblings and all that they went through in that book after reading this one, and I am now curious to seeing how Rodale is going to tie in Claire’s story with these novels.
Now as I mentioned, this book runs parallel with Lady’s Bridget’s Diary. However, while I liked that there was this connection between the two books, I found myself getting confused as to the passage of time within this particular novel toward the end. There is a realization that happens to Amelia later in the story and the passage of time between when the book starts and when this realization happens doesn’t quite work from what I understand of this particular issue. Much of the book details the day that Amelia was missing, I’d say a good half of the novel covered this. That’s all well and good, but the passage of time for the remainder of the book felt like only a few days had gone by before this particular issue happens, and from what I understand of this it takes a few weeks rather than a few days to happen. Course, I could be wrong, and it’s no fur off my nose if I am, however, it did seem like there was some uncertainty in the timeline while I was reading the book. Rodale, if you happen to read this, I’d love to hear your perspective on this.
Overall this was a wonderful addition to a series that I am growing to love more and more with each installation. I am greatly looking forward to Claire’s book which releases in December, and I truly hope that Rodale allows James to have a book as well, or at the very least a chance to share his story with fans in some format. That’s one thing I missed with this story: we didn’t really get much of James this time around and I just know that there is a story where he is concerned just waiting to be shared. Please, Rodale, promise that you’ll tell James’s story at some point! If not in Claire’s book then in a novella or a full book of his own, murr!
“Ah, Lady Nansen. Lord Nansen!” The duchess and her charges paused before a couple that looked just like all the others Amelia had been introduced to: they were of an indeterminate middle age, decked in an array of brightly colored silks and satins, and honestly, a bit jowly and gray.
“I haven’t yet introduced you to my nephew and nieces.”
“And we have been dying to make their acquaintance,” Lady Nansen said, fanning herself furiously. “The ton has spoken of nothing else.”
The duchess performed the introductions. Upon meeting James, the new duke, fawning ensued.
Everyone fawned over James these days—but then when his back was turned they whispered about how his father was a horse thief and that James had been raised in the stables and how tragic it was that Durham was now in his hands.
“And Lady Claire.”
Amelia watched as they took in Claire’s spectacles and her distracted, impatient demeanor. She had not mastered the slightly vacant look of a simpering miss and with a brain as sharp as hers, never would. Amelia watched as Lady Nansen decided that Claire would never be an “incomparable,” or whatever they called the popular girls of the ton, and flitted her attention to the next sister.
Amelia watched as her middle sister glided into an elegant curtsy. The duchess beamed. Lady Nansen judged.
“Your practicing is paying off,” Amelia murmured. She’d caught Bridget curtsying in front of the mirror in the ballroom for an hour last Thursday.
“Do shut up, Amelia,” Bridget said through gritted teeth. Unlike the other Cavendish siblings,
Bridget actually cared about fitting in here. She was obsessed with learning and following the rules.
“And Lady Amelia.” She gave a smile somewhere between gargoyle and simpering miss, but perhaps more on the gargoyle side of the spectrum.
“You must have your hands full, Duchess, trying to make so many matches.”
“It does give one something to do all day,” the duchess replied, with a tight-lipped smile that
Amelia dubbed the One Where I Am Smiling Even Though I Hate What You Just Said. “But I do have every confidence that they will make splendid matches. In fact, I have someone special in mind for Lady Amelia this evening.”
The duchess beamed at her charges, as if they hadn’t been foiling her every effort to marry them off. Amelia began to dread meeting “someone special.”
“I say, Duke,” Lord Nonesuch or whatever began, “do you have an opinion on any of the horses running Ascot?”
The lords always asked James for his opinion on which horse would win a race, so they might win a wager. And then they turned around and made snide remarks about his experience raising and training horses—as if he were beneath them because of this knowledge. Even though he now outranked them.
“I do,” James said, smiling easily.
“Don’t suppose you’d tell a friend who you think will be the winner?” Lord Nansen or Nancy said jovially, with a wink and a nudge.
“I might,” James replied.
This was a conversation he’d had before and Amelia had begged him to do something nefarious, like deliberately suggest a losing horse. But James refused and just smiled like he knew the winner and never said a word.
“I suppose you’re going to build up Durham’s stables,” his lordship said.
“Nansen, he doesn’t have time for horses,” his wife said in that exasperated way of wives. “He must find a bride first.”
The duchess beamed, an I-told-you-so smile.
Then Lady Nansen turned and fixed her attentions on Amelia. Her fan was beating at a furious pace.
“And Lady Amelia, have you found any suitors you care for?”
“After having met nearly all of England’s finest young gentlemen, I can honestly say that no, I have not found any suitors that I could care for,” Amelia said. “But I do have a new appreciation for spinsterhood. In fact, I think it sounds like just the thing.”
Just the thing was a bit of slang she had picked up. Sticking forks in her eye was just the thing (but only with the good silver!). Flustering old matrons with an honest and direct statement was just the thing.
Lady Nansen stared at her a moment, blinking rapidly as she tried to process what Amelia had just said.
“Well your sister seems to have snared the attentions of Darcy’s younger brother,” she said, evidently disregarding Amelia and focusing on Bridget, the one who cared about fitting in and finding suitors.
“Are Lord Darcy and Mr. Wright here tonight?” Bridge asked eagerly. Too eagerly. “I haven’t seen them.”
“It’s not a party without Darcy,” Amelia quipped.
Darcy spent the majority of every social engagement standing against the wall, glowering at the company, refusing to dance, and begging the question of why he even bothered to attend.
But that was neither here nor there and no one deigned to reply to Amelia, so she sighed and lamented her choice in footwear quietly to herself. When Lord and Lady Nansen took their leave and sauntered off, the duchess turned and fixed her cool, blue eyes on Amelia.
“You might endeavor to be a touch more gracious, Lady Amelia.”
The Duchess always said everything in perfectly worded, excruciatingly polite phrases. Translation: Lord above, Amelia, stop acting like a brat.
“I’m just . . . bored.”
And homesick. And unhappy. And dreading the future you have planned for me. And a dozen other feelings one does not mention when one is at a ball.
“Bored?” The duchess arched her brows. “How on earth can you be bored by all this?” She waved her hand elegantly, to indicate everything surrounding them. “Is all the splendor, music, and the company of the best families in the best country not enough for you? I cannot imagine that you had such elegance and luxuries in the provinces.”
Everyone here still referred to her home country as the provinces, or the colonies, or as the remote American backwater plagued by heathens, when Amelia knew that it was a beautiful country full of forthright, spirited people. It was her true home.
They operated under the impression that there was no greater fun to be had than getting overdressed and gossiping with the same old people each night, in crowded ballrooms in a crowded city.
She missed summer nights back home on their farm in Maryland, when she would slip outside at night with a blanket, to look up at the vast, endless expanse of stars.
This, no matter what the duchess said, just did not compare.
“We already met half these people at the six other balls we have attended this week,” she said. “The other half are crashing bores.”
Crashing bores was a phrase Amelia had read in the gossip columns. The violence of it appealed to her.
“I suppose it would be too much to ask you to pretend to act like an interested and engaging young lady.” Then, turning to Lady Bridget, the duchess said, “I daresay she couldn’t.”
With that, the duchess turned away.
She turned away, leaving the words hanging in the air, floating to the ground, just waiting for
Amelia to pounce on them.
“Well that was a challenge,” Claire said.
“I’m not certain she could manage it.” Bridget sniffed.
“Is that a dare?” Amelia asked, straightening up. Oh, she would pretend all right. She would pretend so well they’d all be shocked. It would give her something to do at least. “Because I will take that dare.”
“I’d like to see you try,” Bridget replied. Then, muttering under her breath she added, “For once.”
Amelia reddened. Admittedly she hadn’t been taking this whole sister-of-the-duke business seriously. But she would show them. So instead of sticking her tongue out and scowling at Bridget, Amelia stuck her nose right up in the air and turned away.
About the Author:
Maya Rodale began reading romance novels in college at her mother’s insistence and it wasn’t long before she was writing her own. Maya is now the author of multiple Regency historical romances. She lives in New York City with her darling dog and a rogue of her own.
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