Beautiful Miss Penelope Swinton wants to live out her life as a spinster in her beloved Northamptonshire, but with an ailing father and an entailed estate, she must come to London and enter the Marriage Mart. And if she must marry, she is determined to marry for love.
In a brief respite from the social whirl of the season, she retreats from the restrictions of the ton to sketch in the park and stumbles over a French spy. When Penelope finds her life in danger, Viscount Beau Wellingham steps up to protect her, however he has secrets of his own. Wellingham leads a clandestine life as an agent for the Foreign Office trapping spies. In defending her life, he unwittingly puts her reputation at risk.
In order to save Penelope from society’s scorn, Beau presses for a betrothal. Though she resists, he insists. Soon Beau is unable to deny the attraction he feels towards her. Before he can act on his feelings, danger rises again. This time, his life is on the line.
With a desperate spy closing in, Penelope must choose the safety of what she has always known or a chance for love. But will she be too late?
My review: The suspense in this book gets started from the very first page! That made the story way more fun than it otherwise would have been.
I liked Penelope (Penny or Pen, as she's sometimes called in the book) she's really young and really naive, because she's never been to London before. It's her first season and sometimes she makes little mistakes because she isn't quite sure what's expected of her. That makes her all the more lovable in my eyes though. I liked her pluck when she was talking to the French spy at the beginning. He is aghast that she's drawn a likeness of him, grabs her sketches and rips all of them up. She tells him in no uncertain terms that that's not how you act, even though he is a bit crazy and in her face about drawing them.
That's when Beau steps in. He knows the spy and knows that no good can come from his fixation on Penny. Thus he offers himself as a personal guard to keep her safe during the events she'll be attending. And it's a good thing too, because at her very first ball, a servant approaches and tells her that her chaperone is awaiting her. Luckily Beau sees this as the trickery it is and is planning for the spy to attack. But...in his job protecting her, Beau unwittingly sets off a fire storm of public opinion against Penny. Knowing he must protect her still, he offers to marry her.
One of my favorite parts of this story is that, though they both care for each other at least a little bit, neither of them knows that the other does care for them. That makes their forced marriage prospects a little harder, and causes their wedding plans to be in jeopardy.
This is a cute, clean, regency romance. I liked the plot. I liked the characters. It's worth the time to read if you want a little escape from the world!
I was sent an e-copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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