Beatrice Searle, a beautiful and charming widow, agreed to smarten up tomboy Gillie Southam, because she believed Gillie’s half-brother, Lord Southam, would accompany her to Bath. But it was Southam’s straight-laced fiancée who actually inspired the move, and Lord Southam only came when rumors had Gillie involved with a disreputable fellow. Unfortunately, his lordship mistook Bea for a merry widow…
This is a variation of the second chance romance theme, with Smith familiar older H/h and delightfully bumbling and a bit eccentric younger foils. There is a fiancé monster to spark conflict, and a horse mad young debutante to provide comic relief.
Its a bit different, as the hero is actually trying to give the heroine a slip on the shoulder rather than promising undying love. He is also the one to go through a makeover, which adds some whimsical humor to an otherwise traditional Regency.
This was not my favorite Smith, for although there is some different elements, it wasn’t as funny as I hoped. The heroine, however, is a stronger more mature woman who is clever and delivers some tremendously witty dialogue. Whether or not she is a merry widow is something that also provides some funny moments…I just wish it had been played to the full, ridiculous edge.
Southam is a bit beta, so probably not every readers ideal heartthrob, but I found some of his foibles charming and endearing.
On the whole, horse-mad Gillie and suitor steal the show.
Action is helped along by a journey filled with unfortunate events, including a carriage accident and some bookies.
I will probably read again at some point. It wasn’t my favorite Smith, or her funniest, but its rompish enough that a worn paperback, library copy or affordable ebook investment is a safe enough bet for most fans of the traditional 90s era Regency.
4 out of 6 Traditional Reg Rom with funny moments and older H/h