A scholarly woman with secrets and a wounded earl bond over their love of scientific pursuits in this historical romance with holiday flair.
Lord Matthew Strathmore, Earl of Whittingham, must get down to the bottom of some rather unfounded scientific claims made recently by reclusive Lord Talbot in a well-known journal. After months of being ignored by Talbot’s estate, he’s surprised to receive a welcoming invitation. Through an oncoming storm, he makes the journey just in time to be snowed in with Talbot and his prickly granddaughter, Theodosia Leighton. Theodosia isn’t pleased at Matthew’s arrival, especially after having kept his letters a secret from her grandfather. The truth is, Theodosia has been publishing her own botanical discoveries under her grandfather’s name for quite some time, and the hypotheses Matthew has come to debate are her own. Now she’s snowbound with an earl who is too curious for his own good. Matthew suffers from chronic pain; his left leg was wounded a decade before. He’s given up hope of living the carefree life of a dashing gentleman. No dancing. No horseback riding. Instead, he’s chosen to dedicate his time to knowledge. The connection Matthew and Theodosia forge over their love of learning is adorable, though sometimes the minutiae of Theodosia’s herbalism experiments interrupt the flow of the carefully paced romance. The couple shines best when cooped up at the Leighton estate, where their shared interests continually bring them together. Once the setting breaks this boundary and suddenly changes to the bustle of London society, the snappy and frequent tête-à-têtes between the main characters falter. The holiday elements are subtle, providing more of a cozy winter wonderland feel than a twee romance that barrels like a freight train toward Christmas.
Unevenly paced, but the smart characterization wins out.