Araminta Neave has neither aristocratic birth nor breeding. She does, however, have a father who is indecently rich from his trade with the East. That, combined with fiery curls and a temperament to match, makes her someone to reckon with.
Her father wants the very best for his girl. That, he thinks, would be marriage to a Lord. But their brief visit to the autocratic Lady Tiverton’s home showed him how unlikely that is. Araminta is too unconventional. Undaunted, he has a plan.
Enter the gently born but impoverished spinster Wilhelmina Orksville, instructress, mentor and the bane of Araminta’s life. She schools her manners, replaces her dresses and makes her embroider handkerchiefs. Only Araminta’s love for her father stops her rebelling.
Her only escape is riding her magnificent stallion in Rotten Row where she attracts much attention. Particularly from Lord Frederick Danver, the Duke of Ellonby’s younger son, and Lucius Renford, the louche Viscount Trelowen.
Both want something from Araminta. Lord Frederick covets the horse for his mare; Trelowen, a wealthy but unloved wife. What lengths will they go to in pursuit of their goals, and will either win Araminta?
Caroline Ashton is a new talent who very much channels the spirit of the traditional Regency with limited intimacy, great characters, and a true understanding of the era. The historic details are provided in a nuanced enough way that it doesn’t scream “Look, reader! I did my research” but it does give a clear sense that Ashton understands the genre and what Reg readers want.
I was really looking forward to Araminta’s story after reading and loving Rowena, and in most ways was not disappointed. It wasn’t exactly the book I was hoping for, but in many ways was better because it surprised me. I think I thought there would be more comedy or rompish aspects, but in keeping with Rowena, Araminta was fairly straight-face. That’s not to say it was melodramatic, sad or gothic, just that there was no schtick, slapstick, or other ticks to keep the pace pushing forward. Therefore, I found it a bit hard to get into at first, but once I understood where Ashton was going in terms of plot and tone, it was an easy, entertaining read.
The hero is pretty Beta, but in the end I really adored him because he has so much respect and appreciation for Araminta. Its a real love kind of story. There is a kiss at the very end, but very limited intimacy or even overt flirtation, but its still easy to see why the two characters fall for each other and that their relationship really is born out of mutual affection.
Both H/h are horse mad and prefer the country to Town, and are a little blunt in their speech and manners. This Freddie was a lot like Heyer’s Freddy, in that he is funny (obtuse) and sweet. Araminta is an alpha kind of heroine. She shoots guns, rides with a split dress in a man’s sadle, and does not scream or faint at the sight of a little blood. Its believable, too, because her father is the eccentric Nabob occasionally spotted in Reg Roms.
I loved the scenes at the department store, which is a great little side path to the history of retail and shifts taking place during the era.
I felt the second character game was pretty strong, and I loved the cameo’s from Rowena.
All in all, a wonderful, classic Regency with many of the elements of the HEA formula to make even the most discerning reader fall in love.
4.75 out of 6 A traditional Regency with a soft, subtle romance
*A review copy was provided by the author’s agent. No other compensation was provided.