(Dashing Widows, #2)
Genre: Historical Romance (Regency, 1820)
Beauty – and the Beast?
When rough diamond Anthony Townsend, who also happens to be one of the richest men in England, bursts into Lady Fenella’s house and demands she hand over his runaway nephew, this dashing widow embarks on a breathtaking adventure that might just end in exciting new love.
Fenella, Lady Deerham, has rejoined society after five years of mourning her beloved husband’s death at Waterloo. Now she’s fêted as a diamond of the first water and London’s perfect lady. But beneath her exquisite exterior, this delicate blond beauty conceals depths of courage and passion nobody has ever suspected. When her son and his school friend go missing, she vows to find them whatever it takes. Including setting off alone in the middle of the night with high-handed bear of a man, Anthony Townsend. Will this tumultuous journey end in more tragedy? Or will the impetuous quest astonish this dashing widow with a breathtaking new love, and life with the last man she ever imagined?
And the Beast?
When Anthony Townsend bursts into Lady Deerham’s fashionable Mayfair mansion demanding the return of his orphaned nephew, the lovely widow’s beauty and spirit turn his world upside down. But surely such a refined and aristocratic creature will scorn a rough, self-made man’s courtship, even if that man is now one of the richest magnates in England. Especially after he’s made such a woeful first impression by barging into her house and accusing her of conniving with the runaways. But when Fenella insists on sharing the desperate search for the boys, fate offers Anthony a chance to play the hero and change her mind about him. Will reluctant proximity convince Fenella that perhaps Mr. Townsend isn’t so beastly after all? Or now that their charges are safe, will Anthony and Fenella remain forever opposites fighting their attraction?
“…why don’t we all leave our old, sad days behind? Why don’t we all become dashing widows?”
Anna Campbell’s charming Dashing Widows series features three, young, widowed friends – Caroline, Lady Beaumont, Fenella, Lady Deerham and Helena, Countess of Crewe – who decide they need a little adventure in their lives and this second novella is Fenella’s story.
She’d loved once. She never wanted to love again.
Fenella lost her husband, Henry, when he was killed at the battle of Waterloo. She loved him deeply and cannot contemplate ever falling in love again. For the past five years she has led a quiet, safe life, devoting herself to her son Brandon. Now her friends, Caroline and Helena, have decided that it is time for her to move on and enjoy herself. Anthony’s dramatic entry into her life awakens long dormant emotions that she never wanted to feel again.
Anthony comes from a respectable family and is well-educated, although still a little rough around the edges. He is proud of his origins and has worked his way up to be owner of Townsend and Co, a worldwide trading company. He has travelled all over the world accumulating a vast fortune that arouses envy even in aristocratic circles. When his brother and sister-in-law are tragically killed in a yachting accident, he assumes the guardianship of his nephew, Carey. Anthony has never had much time for the ladies, especially aristocratic ones, whom he generally regards with disdain. However, Fenella has him rethinking his opinions …
Either he needed to revisit his opinion of upper-class women as basically useless. Or Fenella Deerham was a glorious exception to the rule.
I like how, during the journey in pursuit of the runaway boys and the stay at Beeches, Fenella comes to appreciate qualities in Anthony that she admires…his intelligence, strength and self-assurance. She sees how much he loves his nephew and the kindness he shows towards his old nurse and recognises him as a man of principles.
Time spent with Fenella only reinforces Anthony’s opinions of her…beautiful, warm, unselfish and not afraid to stand up to him. I love how honest he is about his feelings for her but never pushes Fenella beyond what she is comfortable with.
I felt that Fenella’s emotional turmoil is realistically portrayed. She feels guilty about her growing feelings for Anthony because they seem like a betrayal of her late husband and I once worked with a widow who had similar guilt feelings. I did sometimes feel frustrated by the way Fenella keeps poor Anthony dangling –
“I feel like a prince in a fairytale, set a series of impossible challenges to win the princess.
– but he does, of course, win his princess and I enjoyed the love scene in the stables…a combination of urgent need, passion and tenderness.
I think these words from Fenella capture the essence of the story perfectly.
“Of course I love you. It took me completely by surprise because it’s not at all like what I felt for Henry. Our love was like a beautiful clear lake, unruffled and calm. When I’m with you, I feel like I’m aboard a great ship on a storm-tossed ocean. It’s exciting and daring and reassuring, all at the same time. And I feel like I’m heading for somewhere wonderful and exotic.”
MY VERDICT: A delightful and enjoyable addition to this entertaining series. Now I’m keen to see how Helena, Countess of Crewe, goes about WINNING LORD WEST.
REVIEW RATING: 4/5 STARS
SENSUALITY RATING: WARM
Read March 2016
The Dashing Widows series (click on book covers for more details):
**My sincere thanks to Anna Campbell for sending me a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review**