(Scandalous Seasons, #5 )
Genre: Historical Romance (Regency)
Lady Patrina Tidemore gave up on the ridiculous notion of true love after having her heart shattered and her trust destroyed by a black-hearted cad. Used as a pawn in a game of revenge against her brother, Patrina returns to London from a failed elopement with a tattered reputation and little hope for a respectable match. The only peace she finds is in her solitude on the cold winter days at Hyde Park. And even that is yanked from her by two little hellions who just happen to have a devastatingly handsome, but coldly aloof father, the Marquess of Beaufort. Something about the lord stirs the dreams she’d once carried for an honorable gentleman’s love.
Weston Aldridge, the 4th Marquess of Beaufort was deceived and betrayed by his late wife. In her faithlessness, he’s come to view women as self-serving, indulgent creatures. Except, after a series of chance encounters with Patrina, he comes to appreciate how uniquely different she is than all women he’s ever known.
At the Christmastide season, a time of hope and new beginnings, Patrina and Weston, unexpectedly learn true love in one another. However, as Patrina’s scandalous past threatens their future and the happiness of his children, they are both left to determine if love is enough.
This is a charming romance by an author who has become a firm favourite of mine. Christi Caldwell always writes stories that are full of emotion and heart with characters that tug at your heartstrings.
Patrina and Weston share a common bond – both gave their love to undeserving people and both are suffering the consequences.
I felt so much sympathy for Patrina. She eloped with a man she thought loved her, only to discover that she had been duped by a heartless schemer hellbent on revenge against her brother, Jonathan. The consequences perfectly highlight the double standards of the ton – the scheming Marshville comes out of it unscathed while poor Patrina becomes a social outcast resigned to spinsterhood. She is full of regret for her foolish action because she realises that she has jeopardised her sisters’ future marital prospects. She had changed from a smiling, carefree woman into a guarded, fractious one.
Living with a wife who had betrayed him in numerous affairs during their 10 years of marriage has left Weston a bitter, angry and heartless man; one with a “steely guard around his heart”. His love for his children, Daniel and Charlotte is never in doubt but, in his desire to protect them from any further hurt, he let them run wild and they had become “reprehensible misbehavers”. The children’s unruly behaviour leads to a rather unconventional and amusing initial meeting with Patrina!
First appearances can often be deceptive. On first meeting Weston, Patrina sees him as insufferable, overbearing and aloof but gradually her opinions start to change – “The somber gentleman she’d come to expect had a lighthearted glint in his eyes”. Weston has vowed to never trust another woman but Patrina with her warmth, courage and kindness to his children threatens to slip past his defenses.
The love that grows between them is sweet and heart-warming. It was lovely to see how Patrina makes Weston happy for the first time in years and restores his jest for life while Weston and the children teach Patrina how to smile again.
Knowing that her scandalous reputation can only hurt them, I admire Patrina’s willingness to put Weston and his children’s happiness before her own. Thank goodness Weston is a hero who is not willing to give up on the woman he loves and his proposal scene is emotional, amusing and romantic.
I came to adore Weston’s children for championing of Patrina and their delightful habit of hiding behind the drapes to eavesdrop.
The curtains rustled yet again, and Amanda angled her head. “What was that?”
Weston schooled his features. “What was what?” After all, if his sister discovered Charlotte and Daniel’s tendency to eavesdrop, he’d not be spared her scathing diatribe on all the ways in which he was failing as a father.
Although Weston’s sister obviously loves her brother and the children, her attitude rankled with me. She so perfectly reflects the high-handedness of Society in her prejudice towards Patrina.
The unwavering love and loyalty of Patrina’s sisters, Penelope, Prudence and Poppy is very touching. I’m rather fond of Poppy, the youngest who seems to have a wise head on such young shoulders. I also like her directness…there’s no beating around the bush with Poppy!
The delightful Epilogue just rounds off everything in a most satisfying way.
My Verdict: Full of warmth, emotion, sadness, laughter and romance, this enchanting novella can be read any time of the year.
REVIEW RATING: 5/5 STARS
SENSUALITY RATING: SUBTLE
Read July 2015
Scandalous Seasons series (click on the covers for more details):