Genre: Historical Romance (Regency, 1822)
Book #1 in a new series of historical romances… with a twist.
Lady Corinna Mowbray has three passions: excellent books, intelligent conversation, and disdaining the libertine Earl of Chance.
Lord Ian Chance has three pleasures: beautiful women, fast horses, and tormenting high-and-mighty Corinna Mowbray.
Neighbors for years, they’ve been at each other’s throats since they can remember. But when a twist of fate forces them to trade lives, how long will it be before they discover they cannot live without each other?
I loved this first book in Katherine Ashe’s Twist series. What a charming, creative, funny and entertaining story!
Corinna had an unconventional upbringing by Regency standards. Her father actively supported her intellectual pursuits and,instead of attending balls, she attended lectures and supported her father’s political initiatives. She travelled abroad with her aunt and uncle, returning home after her mother died to act as hostess for her father. At the age of 29 and with her bluestocking tendencies, Corinna is firmly on the shelf, but she is content hosting her own salons which attract Europe’s intellectual elite.
Ian’s late father was a gambler and a cheat whose dishonourable actions brought disgrace to the family. Needing to put as much distance between himself and the father he despised, Ian left for London where his reputation for horse racing, gambling and beautiful, unmarried women convinced society that he’d turned out just like his father. Instead he has worked hard to restore the family’s honour and fortunes.
Although childhood neighbours, Ian and Corinna have detested each other for the past twenty years. Every time their paths cross, an argument erupts with barbed insults hurled on both sides. However, one such argument has unexpected consequences which allows them to see each other in a completely new light (in more ways than one!).
While I enjoyed their cutting exchanges, I also appreciated how much pain it caused to each of them. Words and actions of the past had left wounds that have never healed and they have continued to fan the flames of their mutual contempt.
It may not appeal to Historical Romance purists but I loved the unusual “Freaky Friday” twist because the scenes where Ian and Corinna are having to live in each other’s bodies are so well written and often funny.
If Ian was obliged to eat another teacake or drink another cup of tepid swill he would vomit it all up in the middle of the Duchess of Hammershire’s drawing room. The corset bound his ribs and stomach with an iron grip. He had divested any number of women of stays, but he’d never understood before how damn uncomfortable they were to wear. How a woman ate more than a soupçon of food at a time, he hadn’t the foggiest.
Corinna refused to cry. The dratted thing would not go away, but she could not let it best her. As a person of reason and sense, she would conquer the beast. Man’s animal nature must perforce be sublimated to moral right and intellectual strength. Hadn’t the Roman moralist Seneca said something like that?
The trouble was, the more she thought about it, the larger it seemed to grow. She stared at her lap, the fine linen nightshirt tenting at her hips, and groaned in frustration.
Living in each other’s shoes also allows them to truly see each other for the first time without their judgement being coloured by animosity. Corinna has always regarded Ian as a “cretin” and a reprobate but is struck speechless when Ian’s friend, the Marquess of Drake, believing Corinna to be Ian, tells him that he is decent, honourable and a loyal friend. Corinna is also surprised to discover the careful records Ian keeps for his several estates, his successful horse breeding business and the family’s finances. He also cares deeply for his family and is liked and respected by his servants.
Ian has always been secretly impressed by Corinna’s beauty, intelligence, wit and boldness but always thought her blood ran with ice rather than hot, feminine need. He is therefore surprised to discover that she had numerous suitors over the years but has refused them all. He is left to ponder the real reason why.
Once they return to their own bodies, they are consumed with all sorts of emotions they have never felt before. Ms Ashe captured all their confusion, doubts, anguish and passion so well.
She resisted the urge to flee. Perhaps making love to him for an entire night, or at all, had not been such a good idea. She ought to have allowed her unrequited admiration to fade into sensible oblivion over months, perhaps years, without the memories of his touch to tease her. The ache inside her was unbearable.
Now deeper inside him, harder than lust or passion, an ache grew, and the power of it filled his arms, his entire body. For years he had wanted her yet told himself he didn’t, but only because he could not have her.
I was really rooting for them to confess their love for each other.
I loved Ian’s friends and do hope they each get their own stories. I also liked Ian’s younger brother, Gregory, who with Ian’s guidance, had grown into a decent young man.
Other reviewers have already mentioned the Americanisms that crept in and the incorrect forms of the address for the male characters and so I won’t labour the point. It just seems a pity that these are issues that could so easily have been remedied.
I would have liked an Epilogue because I wanted to see Ian and Corinna enjoying their hard-fought Happy Ever After but it certainly didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the book.
MY VERDICT: A thoroughly entertaining and refreshingly different story.
REVIEW RATING: 4/5 STARS
SENSUALITY RATING: WARM
Read July 2016
Twist series to date (click on the book covers for more details):