Top critical review
Maybe 3.5 stars
Reviewed in the United States on August 18, 2020
Five years ago Lady Guinevere and Asher Talbot were in love, but their HEA was snatched from them leaving Guinevere heartbroken and the subject of gossip and Asher married to Guinevere’s friend Elizabeth and returning to Scotland, due to the machinations of someone close to them and their own insecurities, they each believe the other lied and betrayed them.
Raised believing he was a bastard, Asher started a distillery and experience success before his mother died. On her deathbed, she confessed that Asher is the legitimate firstborn son of the Duke of Carrington, she and the duke had been married, but his father threatened to cut him off if he didn’t divorce her. She begs Asher to meet his father and take his rightful place. He does, but he never really bonds with the duke and when Elizabeth and her unborn child die less than a year after their marriage, Asher stayed in Scotland and continued to build the distillery business, refusing to have anything to do with the duke or the “ton”, even when his business begins to falter. But when his father dies and the terms of his will are known, Asher will have to return to London and marry one of the women his father has chosen, or he will lose his fortune and the means to help his failing business. He is shocked and angered to learn that Guinevere is on the “list” – but to save his business, he will marry her if need be.
Guinevere was heartbroken when Asher was caught with her best friend and married her without ever talking to her – she thought that Asher used her to make Elizabeth jealous. When they married and left, Guinevere became the subject of gossip and it took years for her to regain her social standing. To protect other women from the pain she endured, she and her friends started the Society of Ladies Against Rogues and they diligently keep watch for ladies that are in danger of being ruined and intervene when they can. It was on one such mission that Guinevere learns that Asher is back – he catches her trying to climb a tree. It is clear that they still harbor deep feelings for each other, but neither is willing to acknowledge them. But when Asher realizes that if he wants to save his company, he will have to marry Guinevere, will they be able to finally move on from their tragic past and find a HEA or will the villain that kept them apart before manage to tear them apart again?
I thought the book itself was well written and paced nicely, but the prolonged misunderstanding / misassumption trope is not a favorite of mine – I felt that the misunderstandings, lies, doubts and misassumptions dragged on for much too long and then when the villain is revealed, there was no comeuppance at all. The book is brimming with emotion, anger, betrayal, lies, misunderstandings, a bit of intrigue, some steamyish love scenes, a lot of secondary characters, twists and turns and finally a HEA, that I have to wonder will last considering the way Asher and Guinevere were so willing to believe the worst in the other. This is the first book in a new Georgian era series and despite my feelings about this particular title, I will be looking forward to future installments as Ms. Johnstone is an exceptional author who time and again delivers deeply emotional, passionate and engaging stories.
*I am voluntarily leaving a review for an eARC that was provided to me.*