Early-19th-century England serves as the setting for this serviceable romance novel.
Our heroine, artist Eden Barrett, wants two things out of life: to find love and to create paintings that will earn her enough money to make an impact on society beyond the art world. Smoldering Colin Ashton, the Seventh Earl of Edmund, is a decent soul, if a little bit on the snooty side. When Colin (aka Lord Edmund) brings the goodhearted Eden aboard as a governess, the twosome begin a spirited bout of verbal sparring, likely as a way to mask their mutual attraction. Their flirting is witnessed by Colin’s little sister Diana, a precocious child who picks up on everything, including the push-pull nuances of the Lord and Eden’s relationship. Enter the eminently desirable Cassandra Bradley, the neighbor who Lord Edmund lusts over, and the sparks begin to fly–though without much in the way of sexual heat. Bach, a teacher of drama and literature for more than 30 years, offers a contemporary bodice-ripper with very few ripped bodices–the details are sensual rather than sexual, rendered in prose that is at once breathless and precious. The book is primarily driven by dialogue, and the author does an admirable job of differentiating between the voices of the characters. Unfortunately, the dialogue drifts between 1800s British parlance and modern-day, slang-laced language, and the narrative momentum often stalls for pages at a time.
Readers looking for sordid sexuality and scandal should look elsewhere, but those seeking a sincere historical romance may find satisfaction in these pages.